Amid a global pandemic, Claflin University continues to make strides to increase educational opportunities for its students.
The university recently launched a partnership with Planet Fitness to provide internships for students majoring in human performance and recreation and sports management. The partnership officially began with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Wednesday, Feb. 9.
Justin Josey, a senior sports management major, was the first Claflin student selected for the internship. He will work with Planet Fitness during the 2022 spring semester. As an intern, Josey will provide support to various departments and gain hands-on experience in facility management, operations, sales, marketing, and community outreach.
“I am excited to see what we both can accomplish through the partnership,” said Kristin Bobenage, Planet Fitness human resources director. “We have never done this before, even in the Columbia, S.C., market. We are participating in a program like this for the first time. Our goal is to tailor the internship to the specific needs of the student.”
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For Josey, this program is a perfect opportunity to build experience and connections before he graduates in May 2022.
“This internship means a lot to me because my goal is to work with corporate partnerships and marketing once I graduate,” said Josey.
“I’m just looking forward to the experience and connecting with people. I heard there are a lot of good opportunities with Planet Fitness branching from their current partnerships, so I want to make a great first impression.”
Clarissa Graham, instructor and coordinator of clinical experiences and community engagement at Claflin, has worked since September 2021 to bridge a partnership with the university and Planet Fitness.
Dr. Nathan Chaplin, assistant professor/coordinator of human performance and recreation, and Dr. Natasha Ferguson Dennison, associate professor of sports management & program coordinator, also contributed to the success of the initiative.
“I think this is an opportunity for greater exposure for the students in the internship program. It allows them to connect with others, gain real-world exposure, and apply what they learn in their classes in a professional setting,” Graham said. “We want this partnership to provide mutual benefits. We want to create value for Planet Fitness just as they are creating value for us in allowing our students to intern with them.”
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As for the future of this partnership, Claflin plans to continue having high-caliber HPR and Sports Management students intern with Planet Fitness to gain experiences that will help them in their career pursuits.
“We are grateful to Claflin President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack for his visionary leadership and to Dr. Anthony A. Pittman, dean of the school of education, for his continued efforts to spearhead partnerships within the community. We also thank our partners at Planet Fitness for their support in creating and developing this internship,” Graham said.
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