Explore Charleston Launches Internship Program for Minority College Students

Explore Charleston, the Lowcountry’s top destination management and marketing organization, introduced the inaugural class of its new Intern Cultural Enrichment Program (ICEP) on May 25, 2021. This initiative connects underrepresented minority students, many from historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs), with world-class internship opportunities in the local travel and hospitality industry. ICEP is a ten-week leadership development program that complements the students’ paid internships. Participants engage in a weekly curriculum that introduces information about the local community and culture, fosters interaction with business and civic leaders, and cultivates peer relationships. The ICEP was established to prepare the students to hold hospitality leadership roles in the future, so many are shadowing general managers and rotating through several properties and multiple departments throughout the summer.  The concept for this program came from Explore Charleston’s “Heart for Hospitality” initiative. Launched in 2019, “Heart for Hospitality” is a living story that invites Charleston’s large and diverse community to advance the Lowcountry with raised awareness and action for inclusion. Thirteen students from six universities were accepted into ICEP, including Benedict College, Morgan State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Virginia State University. Other non-HBCU schools include Johnson and Wales (Charlotte, NC) and University of South Carolina. Internship partners include Belmond Charleston Place, Charleston County Aviation Authority, Charlestowne Hotels, Hotel Bennett, Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Lowcountry Hotels and Wild Dunes Resort. There was no cost to the students for participation in ICEP and Explore Charleston is covering all summer housing costs.

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