Creating a Presence on Campus

Becoming an employer of choice on campus is about more than just recruiting events. Information sessions, job descriptions, and interviews are the process by which we get candidates in the door. However, they should be at the end of a process to familiarize students with the organization. Many students will have formed an opinion about your company long before they attend an information session. They will hear about your organization from friends, relatives, and the media. The grapevine on any campus includes information about who the good employers are. What students hear before your information session will determine if they even attend your information session. So make sure they are hearing about you, from you, while they are forming their opinions. Creating a presence on campus should be an on-going process done outside the recruiting calendar. It is the process by which you familiarize students with your organization, your employees, and the opportunities you offer. Companies that do this well will see an increased number of students at information sessions and applying for internships and entry-level positions. The important keys to success are a consistent message, truth in advertising, and putting a face on your company. A consistent message is important for two reasons. First, you are creating an impression, and all of your information should reinforce the message you are trying to send. Second, students compare notes. They will talk with each other about what they have heard about and from your company. Conflicting information reflects badly upon you as an employer. By “truth in advertising,” I mean giving a realistic and true picture of your company. As with a consistent message, students compare notes. Word gets around campus quickly if internships or entry-level jobs don’t turn out to be what students expected. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Finally, putting a face on your company means having the same people on campus on a fairly consistent basis. Students’ opinions of your organization will be influenced by the opinions they have of your employees. Sending the same people back to campus allows them to build a rapport with students and create a more personal connection with your company. Here are some suggestions on activities outside of recruiting in which your company can become involved:

  1. Sponsor research projects. An increasing amount of the work students do now is group project work related to real organizations. Identify professors or courses which are a good match for the majors you need and have course topics to which you can contribute. Contact the professor and offer to help sponsor a research project. This usually involves having employees available by phone for interviews or to provide information.
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  3. Get involved with student groups or Guest Speakers in classes. Professors and student groups are always looking for guest speakers. Your employees can demonstrate their expertise, get to know some students, talk about exciting projects and share their career experiences. This usually involves one or two visits to campus. One speaker can sometimes address several student groups or classes and have a very wide reach. Make sure your employee brings business cards for students who might be interested in contacting the company.
  4. Organize company or plant visits. Bring the students to you. Professors and student groups love to do plant and company visits. This is a more time consuming and involves a great deal of coordination. However, if the school is a big feeder school for you or you are trying to break into a tough recruiting campus, this extra effort will pay off.
  5. Give workshops with Career Services. Building a rapport with Career Services is an essential part of successful on-campus recruiting. Find out what you can do to make their jobs easier or provide them with services. Perhaps students need mock interviewing workshops or resume reviews. Contact your career services representative and ask what you can contribute to them.

Each campus, like each candidate, has a unique personality and dynamic. Get to know your campus and find what your organization can do to become involved. The big budget items are not always the road to success. Get involved with students and helping them achieve their goals whether short-term related to courses, or long-term related to careers.

Maggie Ruvoldt (mer@FutureCollegeGrads.com) runs FutureCollegeGrads.com, a website devoted to helping students and employers find each other and to maximizing the internship and entry-level job experience for both. Ms. Ruvoldt also consults for organizations developing college recruiting and internship programs. Ms. Ruvoldt is also working towards completing the Masters Program in Human Resource Management at the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations. More information about her work, consulting services, and job listings can be found at FutureCollegeGrads.com.

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