Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Erwin Center hosts annual diversity camp, Dive In, to introduce diverse talent to brand communications industry


By: Emma Tilson, Clemson University Class of 2024

The Erwin Center for Brand Communications hosted the annual Dive In camp in May to provide students with hands-on experience, exposure and networking opportunities with brand leaders and industry professionals. This year’s cohort included 15 students from Clemson and neighboring HBCUs, including Claflin and North Carolina A&T, in an immersive four-day career exploration that included trips to brands and agency partners in Greenville and Atlanta. The week-long camp provides a pipeline of diverse talent to the brand marketing, advertising and media industries.

“The Dive In program is a fantastic opportunity for students of all backgrounds to come together to explore opportunities in marketing, media and branding,” said Katie Hildebrand, executive director of the Erwin Center. This is a unique experience that makes important connections for these students that will benefit their future careers, as well as diversify industry talent to offer the different perspectives important to brand growth.”

Throughout the program, students were introduced to a wide range of opportunities, from marketing research to brand strategy, experiential marketing and advertising production. Scholars met with various agencies, brands and businesses in the Upstate, including Sparks Research, FerebeeLane and Endeavor.

FerebeeLane, a brand agency in Greenville, hosted the students to introduce them to strategies for building culture brands.

They also met the Erwin Center’s co-founder, Joe Erwin, President and Owner of Greenville Liberty and Triumph and Doug Erwin, the teams’ Chief Brand Officer, who introduced the magic behind building Greenville’s Soccer clubs. During the official team store walkthrough, the scholars were introduced to strategies used in sports marketing to grow successful teams.

Students met with Joe Erwin, President of the Greenville Triumph and co-founder of the Erwin Center, as they were introduced to the Clemson MBA program.

“With the Dive In program, I was able to get a feel for the real world of marketing,” said Angel Kevadia, a sophomore Marketing major at Clemson. “I met with amazing brand professionals and learned so much. It allowed me to have a better understanding of the field.”

The students were also given an overview of FerebeeLane’s unique approach to building culture brands, Clemson’s MBA concentration in Digital Brand Communications, and an in-depth tour of EP+Co’s Taylor’s Mill production studio created to support best-in-class in-house production capabilities.

Students visited EP+Co’s Taylor’s Mill creative production studio in Taylors, SC.

“I made so many new connections through Dive In and got to hear perspectives from many different agencies,” said Rebecca Wells, a senior at Clemson University. “This week opened my eyes to the careers available through Brand Communications and helped me understand what my future could look like.”

Partners in Atlanta, Georgia, also offered a full day of unique branding exposure. The Scholars were hosted at the Porsche Experience Center, followed by in-depth presentations from Andy Thomas, VP of Marketing at McLaren and the team at Public School, an experiential agency within the Czarnowski group.

Andy Thomas, VP of Marketing at McLaren, welcomes the students alongside the Public School team at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, GA.

The final stop of the program included a trip to the Chick-fil-A Headquarters and their in-house creative agency. The students were given an inside look at how the agency creates and produces a variety of creatives to support the brand, followed by a seat on the famous red couch from Chick-fil-A’s recent advertising campaign.

Rich Cutter, Creative Director at Chick-fil-A’s in-house agency, welcomes the students to their brand-building creative space.

 “Dive In was a great learning opportunity,” said Sequoyah Watson, a marketing major from North Carolina A&T. “This wide view of the marketing and branding industry helped me figure out where I might want to take my degree.”

Learn more about the annual Dive In program on the Erwin Center’s website.

Pictured (from left): Lori Pindar, Ph.D., Miles Durant, Katie Hildebrand – a Dive In certificate of completion is presented to all Scholars who participate in the program.
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