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Red Ventures partnership with Johnson C. Smith University reaches new heights

Red Ventures Road to Hire Graphic

Charlotte, N.C. / June 3, 2021 - Two years after its conception, the Red Ventures Road to Hire partnership with Johnson C. Smith University is preparing for its third cohort of students. In 2019, the University partnered with the Rock Hill, South Carolina, based company for a three-credit, two-semester digital marketing course in Metropolitan College of Professional Studies. Graduating seniors are guaranteed a job with Red Ventures after completion of the course with the grade of a B or higher.

“We have 19 students who have been hired since the start of this cohort,” said Dr. Lucinda Blue, chair of the Business Administration and Economics department, and instructor of the course. 

Over the duration of the course, students learn professional development skills, including public speaking, giving and receiving feedback in the workplace and networking. Since the program’s conception, they have also found ways to elevate the curricula and identify additional development opportunities for students, even to those who aren’t participating in the course. 

“During the first cohort, I saw a need to enhance students’ presentation skills, which I shared with other faculty members,” Blue said. “We don’t need to wait until the senior paper to do presentations, we need to be infusing this throughout all of our courses.” 

As a result of the pandemic, instruction for the second cohort was adjusted. Students who would typically spend a split amount of time learning in the classroom and at the Red Ventures headquarters, attended class virtually twice a week and were assigned a coach to ensure that they were adapting to this learning modality. Additionally, students had regular weekly meetings with the Road to Hire coordinators to discuss students' progress, course content and lessons learned from observations.  

After the completion of the first cohort, Blue and Dr. Laura Colson McLean, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, launched a summer internship course. “We sat down with Red Ventures for an assessment of this partnership and discussed what we did well and what can we do to further enhance the experience for students,” McLean said. The summer internship serves as an onboarding experience for students, where they can learn more about the company. The internship course is not required to be considered for the cohorts, but McLean and Blue feel it’s beneficial and encourage students to participate.

The success of this cohort has led to an expansion of other opportunities for the University. Red Ventures Pathways program, which works with area high school students, is now in alignment with JCSU’s Pinnacle Scholars Program. Red Ventures is also working with the University’s Communication Arts and English students for a summer 2021 internship program.

“We want to be able to afford every Johnson C. Smith University student some type of experiential learning experience as soon as they step foot on campus,” McLean said. 

Blue echoed McLean’s statement adding, “What we’ve learned is we need to start working with our students very early and we cannot wait for students to reach their senior year to gain this experience. That’s why Blue and McLean have already begun identifying freshmen for the Road to Hire program. 

“It is my hope students sell the Red Ventures Road to Hire program by telling other students about it,” Blue said. “This innovative, exciting, and just-in-time learning offers our students a present-day digital marketing and sustainable career.”

Programs like this not only create pathways for student’s success, but they provide opportunities for students of color, who are often underrepresented in corporate America. “I really feel as if Red Ventures is truly leading the way with diversity, equity and inclusion. It’s Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias’s drive and initiative to ensure that opportunities are afforded for everyone,” McLean stated.

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