This summer 95 students in the Bryan School’s Department of Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies (CARS) received internships. For those who haven’t worked in the department for nearly 25 years — that’s a lot.
“It’s the highest number since I have been in the program — and ever, to my knowledge,” says department head and Burlington Industries Professor Dr. Nancy Hodges.
Part of this story, it should be noted, began in the spring of 2020. When COVID-19 hit, some companies canceled internship programs, making it difficult for students to secure spots. While 54 CARS students did complete their internship requirement during summer 2020, there were students who postponed the requirement until 2021.
But that doesn’t necessarily paint a complete picture, according to Hodges.
“Our enrollment has continued to grow,” she adds. “The number (95) reflects this growth, as well as the fact that the apparel retail industry has rebounded very well from the pandemic.”
The Bryan School’s CARS program is active when it comes to providing students with professional development and real-world industry experiences. Alongside course projects that involve working directly with apparel companies, CARS integrates as many opportunities to understand the real world as possible through guest speakers, field trips to local businesses, as well as a study tour to New York.
“What sets the CARS program apart from other apparel programs is that the internship is required for the degree,” says Hodges. “Other programs offer internships as elective hours. We view it as an integral part of our degree program and a necessary aspect of our students’ preparation for becoming apparel and retail industry professionals.”
Students can complete this requirement wherever they want, including New York, Los Angeles, here in North Carolina, or even abroad. As a result, students are spending summer 2021 interning at places like Kohl’s, Kontoor, Macy’s, QVC, and Ralph Lauren, according to CARS Lecturer and Internship Director Anne Wood.
“Last summer as you can imagine, things were very difficult for our students,” says Wood. “One student, Anna Spencer, a junior, had secured an internship with Simply Southern headquarters here in Greensboro. Unfortunately due to the pandemic, they weren’t able to allow her to complete the internship then, but they promised that she could do the internship this summer 2021. Well, she is doing such a great job as an intern that she just received a full-time job offer at Simply Southern doing the same work as her internship as a Marketing Specialist, so she couldn’t be more pleased, and it’s a happy ending to a very difficult year for her internship journey.”