Top tips for developing successful campus ambassador programs
March 16, 2020
To be successful, campus ambassador programs need the right representatives on campus, a manager to oversee the effort and a process that connects referrals to your recruiting efforts.
What is a campus ambassador program?
A campus ambassador program is a conduit for brands to create community and knowledge around their services through university students. This lets brands increase awareness around ongoing marketing initiatives in an easily digestible way, while simultaneously positing your values to potential job seekers later.
We’ve put together some tips that will help you start delivering results this semester:
Top 8 tips for developing successful campus ambassador programs
1. Choose the right colleges and universities.
Start by building a test pilot campus ambassador program with a few local schools to ensure you have a solid process in place before launching nationally or globally. Pull data from your applicant tracking system (ATS) to understand where the majority of your campus hires came from in the past. Go back about five years to look for trends, and pinpoint your top schools.
2. Identify your target market.
First decide what type of student, in terms of education and extracurricular activities, would be best for your company. Segment the student population based on these criteria, and not only should you target schools with these students, but become familiar with the programs and clubs where these students can be found.
3. Establish and maintain an on-campus presence.
Most colleges welcome companies to post positions, attend career fairs and host campus interviews and information sessions. But to establish your on-campus brand, it’s important to go beyond these traditional methods (which is the extent of what most companies are doing). Try sponsoring student competitions and consider advertising opportunities in student newspapers, directories and other publications.
4. Utilize social marketing, like social networking and referrals.
Corporate referral sources should include your company’s recently hired graduates, interns, current recruiting targets and your employees. Among the campus community, you want to solicit referrals from grad assistants, student organization leaders, tutors, and if you have them, your organization’s own student on-campus ambassadors. Employees can be your greatest advocates and brand ambassadors, so leverage that resource to build up your referral programs.
The best campus ambassador programs hire the “poster child” of its target audience to represent the company on campus. If possible, use past interns or co-op students. Because they will have worked at your company, they will better understand your culture and will provide a more authentic representation of your company. And because they’re speaking from experience, they will also be more convincing to prospects.
If you don’t have a recent graduate hiring program and need to start from scratch building your connections, target high-profile students in specific on-campus organizations to help you recruit the right CAs for your company.
6. Train, train and train.
Bring all of your CAs to your corporate office and officially kick off the program with an organized training curriculum. Train them on your company culture, direct recruiting tactics and key performance indicators (KPIs).
7. Mentor and provide feedback.
Don’t train your campus ambassadors then let them loose without touching base regularly. A weekly check-in call with a manager allows you to talk through any potential challenges before they become a bigger issue. It’s beneficial for campus ambassador managers to get to campus and work with the CAs regularly. Having this mentorship and feedback loop available helps your team gain a better understanding of the trends on campus.
8. Reward results.
The mistake that many companies make is to let last summer’s interns or co-op students run around campus with branded gear and hope they market opportunities at their company. Build an incentive-based program that encourages and rewards productivity. Maybe the CA with the most monthly applications collected wins an iPad or the CA with the most quarterly hires wins a trip for two. Get creative! These rewards will certainly motivate your CAs.
Your investment in a campus ambassador program will pay off with the gain of quality interns and recent graduate hires. Continuously improve and grow your program each year to increase brand recognition and attract eager students and top-notch entry-level employees.
Combining on-the-job training with studying, apprenticeships are also a great way to source emerging talent. This is especially true as business evolves at such a rapid pace and many educated people may not necessarily have the skills that companies need.
Work-based training and public-private partnerships are much needed and will help to ensure the workplaces of the future have the skills to move forward.
Vocational apprenticeships have long been popular in Europe and increasing numbers of companies throughout North America are following suit by establishing apprenticeship programs. In January 2020, the Government of Ontario revealed plans to give the automotive industry $14 million to pay for apprentices and work placements for post-secondary students and recent graduates in a bid to help combat skills shortages in the industry.
Paul Dodd is the Head of Canadian Engagement for WilsonHCG. Paul helps organizations, across a spectrum of sizes and industries, realize their unique talent needs by combining global knowledge with specialized Canadian expertise. He is a recognized thought leader with more than 20 years of practical experience. Under Paul's leadership, WilsonHCG has developed a range of customized, strategic recruitment solutions that shorten the recruitment life cycle while driving value for for each client. Paul continues to push for greater innovation in recruitment solutions development, while emphasizing the need for customer service and comprehensive support.