College of Science; Graduate School

Graduate students explore industry careers via A2i Connect


Eleven students from Clemson’s first Accelerate to Industry (A2i) cohort spent a day on-site at the Cary, North Carolina headquarters of SAS, developer of the popular analytics software of the same name, as part of the A2i Connect program. The students spent the day learning about what employers like SAS and other industry employers look for in potential employees with a research or graduate education background, what employers can offer these candidates and potential employees, how to develop the most in-demand skills, and more.

“There are great opportunities for us in industry,” says Leah DeLorenzo, an A2i participant and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences, “but there’s not much focus on that in academia. A2i and events like this site visit have been invaluable in learning how to target the corporate sector, from tailoring my resume and LinkedIn page to building networks that can yield personal referrals once I graduate.”

An industry partner panel provided insight into industry career readiness and development, and featured Kayla Woitkowski, director of early career talent acquisition for SAS; Kerel Fryar, vice president, data science accelerator program at Truist; Kevin Piezer, senior director and medical science liaison at Eli Lilly and Company ; Christine Bevan, senior talent acquisition specialist with JMP Statistical Software; and Jim Saulsbury, early talent campus manager with ABB.

“We’re pleased and proud that this event took place on the one-year anniversary of A2i’s launch at Clemson,” says Marieke Van Puymbroeck, the Graduate School’s associate dean for professional development, health and well-being. “The instant buy-in from students and faculty is a reflection of how much a program like A2i can offer our students.”

The site visit was a collaboration between the Graduate School, the College of Science, and SAS. Emily Wallace, senior director of research and development at SAS and a Clemson graduate, reached out to A2i in an effort to help Clemson students prepare for industry careers in a rapidly changing job market. “Emily was key to making this happen,” says Puymbroeck, “and her participation elevated what was already a premiere event.”

Liliana N. Gehring, chief strategy and engagement officer in the College of Science, explains why events like this one are so important for students: “Transitioning from academia to industry is challenging and can be intimidating for graduate students and postdocs,” she says. “The A2i program provides the tools and opportunities to demystify the process; it accelerates students’ readiness for joining the workforce – a key priority for the College of Science in preparing the next generation of leading scientists.”

Clemson invited 150 students from five other schools to participate in the site visit: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; North Carolina State University; North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University; Wake Forest; and Duke.

Clemson students interested in applying for the next A2i cohort should visit the website or contact Jenny Presgraves at

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