It’s a great time to be a college student preparing to enter the workforce. And for the next generation of employees interested in finding a company that prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion, there are more employers than ever that are making those initiatives a big part of their institutional culture.

That’s why, as part of the virtual Fall 2021 Career Fair & Employer Info Sessions on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, the College of Charleston’s Career Center in partnership with the Office of Institutional Diversity is hosting the first-ever DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Elevation Hour aimed at connecting students and alumni with nine employers that offer robust diversity programs or initiatives for their employees and constituents and believe career advancement is a social justice issue.

The DEI Elevation Hour will take place on Sept. 29 from noon to 1 p.m. over Zoom and will feature representatives from the following employers:

  • Beazely Group
  • South Carolina Federal Credit Union
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Pattison’s Academy
  • Teach for America
  • Enterprise Holdings
  • Nucor
  • Fast Company
  • Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Kimberly Gailliard, program coordinator for the Office of Institutional Diversity, says the goal is to connect students, particularly students of color, to companies that “have a track record of recruiting diverse talent and/or developing and supporting diversity initiatives.”

The DEI Elevation Hour is the first program this year developed under the Launchpad for Success initiative, which focuses on creating career development opportunities for underrepresented minority students, first-generation students and students of color, says Jim Allison, executive director of the College’s Career Center. The initiative is part of a collaboration between the Career Center and the Office of Institutional Diversity.

“Launchpad for Success is a DEI initiative that aims to provide underrepresented students, particularly students of color, with broad access to opportunities for professional development, employer engagement and mentoring,” says Gailliard.

Allison began discussions to develop a program to support underrepresented and minority students in 2020 after reviewing data that showed a need for more support for students, particularly students and alumni of color, dealing with unemployment, underemployment and salary inequities.

Launchpad for Success began in the 2020–21 academic year with a series of OAKS courses and webinars as well as a Black alumni panel discussion with current students of color. This year’s lineup of programming will focus on the initiative’s three pillars: professional development, employer relations and community outreach, and mentorship.

A total of 43 employers, including those taking part in the DEI Elevation Hour, will participate in the main Fall 2021 Career Fair, which will take place virtually on Sept. 29 from 1–4 p.m. Students and alumni will be able to sign up for information sessions with individual employers. Allison recommends students and alumni have their résumés up to date and that they look through Handshake, the College’s job platform for students and alumni, to see available job postings listed for participating employers.

Some of the employers hosting information sessions during the Career Fair include:

  • Blackbaud
  • BMW Manufacturing
  • Capgemini
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Roper St. Francis Hospital
  • Teach for America

And the good news, says Allison, is that, as the economy picks up steam in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, there is no shortage of internship and job opportunities for workers just entering the job market.

“It’s an exciting time,” says Allison, noting there are more than 3,000 pending jobs awaiting approval in Handshake. “There’s currently a surplus of internships and jobs for students. There are so many opportunities, and the market is booming for talent and employees with college degrees.”