There is no denying that, for college students, finding and securing a summer internship that will advance your career and launch you into success is about as pleasant and as easy as it would be to saw off your arm 127 Hours style. It is about the same caliber of intensity as it was to apply to college, except that instead of four years, you get maybe three months of running coffees and standing in the back of pitch meetings while the higher-ups pretend that you are merely a shadow. To secure yourself a solid, worthwhile internship, you are not only expected to maintain good grades in upper division college courses, but also be involved on campus in organizations that pertain to social justice and bettering the world because you are absolutely an ambassador for good and not a party girl, gain real world experience in the ten minutes you have between classes through remote internships, and make social connections with people who somehow, by the grace of God, know someone somewhere who knows somebody who is a CEO or a CFO who can “put in a good word for you.”
Honestly, it’s a lot. There’s no denying that college is a lot to handle for anyone. But thankfully, the pioneers that forged the paths before us realized that there are ways to manage all of this and have fun doing it. Especially in Silicon Valley, where I am lucky enough to attend school, there are businesses popping up everywhere that are looking for college students to contribute their fresh ideas and creativity to making their companies accessible by people everywhere. Campus ambassador programs through these businesses are making it easy for college students to enjoy every aspect of college while gaining valuable professional experience.
Campus ambassadors not only gain that valuable experience, but the jobs come with tons of free swag—shot glasses, t-shirts, flags, and every other item under the sun. On top of that, it allows you to experience what it’s like to actually work for a company, including the demand of corporate world deadlines and brushing off the fear of making your ideas known in a dog-eat-dog environment. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg:
Developing basic professional skills.
There’s a lot more to business that wearing a pencil skirt and a killer pair of pumps and pretending you know what you’re doing. The first step into the corporate world is a job interview, and campus ambassadors everywhere are benefitting not only from having to interview for the ambassador job, but the valuable advice they gain from their superiors in having interviews with other companies. Caroline Cronin, a Santa Clara University campus ambassador for the increasingly popular app “Tilt,” spoke to how being involved with the app has influenced her interviewing abilities, and overall communication tactics: “Developing my promoting skills for Tilt has really helped me with other job interviews as well as presentations. I feel my public speaking has gotten better as a result!” Campus ambassador programs work hard to ensure that their young protégées are well equipped to face the big, bad world of professionalism through developing those basic skills you need to kill every aspect from the interview to the pitch.
Seeing your ideas become reality.
As twenty-somethings, it is hard to take ideas we have and implement them because we don’t have access to the necessary resources to see those dreams become reality. Campus ambassadors, however, through the help of their supervisors, have the privilege to be able to use the resources at their disposal because of their connection to a company that is constantly looking for new ideas. Kaela D’Sylva, a Santa Clara University ambassador for the app "tote” which streamlines notices of sales and discounts for popular clothing brands, said that the most fulfilling part of her experience in working with tote has been when she sees items in her own tote go on sale, and witnessing changes to the app: “It’s pretty cool to able to see feedback from on campus be used in changes in the app!”
Connecting with your own school (and others).
Campus ambassadors have a special ability to connect with users on their campus, because of their direct and personal connection to their peers and their usage of the app. Caroline, the “Tilt” Santa Clara representative, says that beyond her own campus, she loves “seeing what other schools are using tilts for and I love thinking that about how we can incorporate some of those really successful ideas at SCU.” In fact, Tilt has ambassador programs all over the world. A United Kingdom representative spoke of how working for Tilt “has a huge collegiate feel” because “everyone is working together.” There is a huge sense of community in being a campus ambassador because you are forging relationships with your peers that might not have been possible without that common link of the brand for which you work.
Sharing with others what you’ve learned.
I’m not sure what it is, but each and every campus ambassador that graces the grounds of Santa Clara University is so fantastically passionate about the work that they’re doing. They take that passion and share it with all those around them and make it easy to get excited about whatever it is they are doing or promoting. They hand out free swag and they hand out invaluable information on their brand, and what college kid doesn’t like free stuff? Caroline from Tilt mentioned that one of her favorite parts of being an ambassador is “trying to teach my parents how to tilt. They are not very tech-savvy, but have picked up on it very quickly since Tilt is so easy to use! They’ve gotten all of their parent friends to use it by making tilts for Chicago Bears games and All Blacks games, and paying their friend back after big group dinners or ski trips!”
What you personally gain.
When you’re an ambassador, you are part of a team. No matter what your rank or position, you are a cog in the wheel that makes the company run smoothly. The UK Tilt ambassador spoke highly of her team experience working with Tilt, saying “You feel valuable, because you are valuable… I’ve never seen a company care more about its ambassadors more than Tilt.” Ambassadors everywhere are able to take that care and concern that their supervisors feel for them and apply it to manifesting that passion within their own positions. It’s what makes being a campus ambassador so awesome in the first place. As you enhance your professional skills, you’re creating strong relationships and realizing your potential as a citizen of the corporate world.