Meet Brea Fields, a senior major in Business Administration with a concentration in Leadership for Sustainability. This summer, Brea took a leap of faith and participated in Explore Charleston’s Intern Cultural Enrichment Program (ICEP), which transformed her forever.
ICEP is a 10-week leadership development program that complements a paid internship. Students participate in a weekly program introducing them to the community and local culture, fostering interaction with civic and business leaders, cultivating peer relationships, and developing business and communication skills to support personal and professional growth.
Why did you decide to apply for Explore Charleston’s ICEP?
I was searching for an internship in Charleston that would encourage professional development and allow for exploration within diversity and inclusion. I found out about ICEP two weeks before the deadline, so it was a bit of a quick decision to apply. Initially, I wasn’t interested because I noticed that it was directed toward hospitality students. However, after doing some research and encouragement from various peers and professors, I decided to apply!
How did the experience relate to your future career goals?
Although the program was geared toward hospitality majors, the ICEP recruiters, Marc Gibson and Louis Yuhasz, worked diligently to find an internship for me at Charleston County Aviation Authority that allowed me to explore Diversity and Inclusion in the business sector in the Finance and Human Resources departments. Because I’m very interested in diversity and inclusion, the Human Resources department created projects for me to gain experience in this area. I’m proud of the work I completed during this internship, and I know that it will serve me well throughout my career search.
What was your favorite part of the program?
My favorite part of the program was growing close relationships with the other interns. We all became friends, then good friends, then family. From Taco Tuesdays to sunset concerts, I was able to explore Charleston in a way that was new to me with my new family. I loved that we all lived on campus in Kelly House together, which allowed us to support and encourage one another throughout the summer.
Overall, it was a great group of people to have fun with and to lean on whenever one needed a hand.
What have you gained from the experience?
The blessings are overflowing from this experience. It is a phenomenal opportunity to network with Black professionals in the Charleston area. I created relationships with Black professionals, who I now consider my mentors and who provided valuable advice and connections that will aid in the nerve-wracking senior-year job search. Additionally, I gained a great group of friends and connections with the individuals at Explore Charleston, who I know will always have my back.
In a thank you note you sent to the team at Explore Charleston, you mentioned how special it was to be with people who look like you. Talk to us a bit about the importance of representation.
As a Black woman studying Business Administration at the College of Charleston, this program was so valuable. It gave me the opportunity to be around young, professional Black women and men, who will have similar experiences as we embark on our professional careers.
Would you recommend the program to other students?
Absolutely, yes! I could not recommend this program enough to other students. I think it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have never heard of another program or internship quite like the one by Explore Charleston. So much dedication and planning goes into the 10-week program, and I am grateful to be a part of the 2022 class. It’s fun, challenging, and a wonderfully unique and rare opportunity to meet students from around the country while learning about Black individuals and businesses in Charleston.