Friday, 22 July 2016

In praise of Campus Brand Managers

I recently had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Campus Brand Manager of the Year competition at Enterprise Rent A Car's European HQ. The event was a celebration of the great work undertaken by Campus Brand Managers across the UK, promoting internships, placements and graduate opportunities, to their fellow students. Four regional finalists delivered outstanding presentations highlighting their achievements, successful referrals to Enterprise recruitment programmes and pitched for why they deserved to be named Campus Brand Manager of the Year. Chelsea Gannon from Liverpool John Moores University was undoubtedly a worthy winner.

The four finalists of #CBMOTY 2016, with winner Chelsea Gannon pictured on the far left
There were a number of things that stood out to me from this event. Firstly, the finalists themselves. The quality of their presentations was superb and I was rather blown away at the level of responsibility they had taken on to promote Enterprise on campus. My recollection of being a brand ambassador many moons ago to a long since disbanded online book retailer was of occasional flyering of libraries and computer labs. These guys mean serious business. The Ambassadors very much provide the eyes and ears on campus for talent acquisition, meeting prospective candidates, holding advice sessions, networking events and even running their own assessment centres. And what made them so effective in their role is having already undertaken a placement or internship with Enterprise, so they could talk first hand about the management schemes, responsibilities and opportunities for career progression. I've long been an advocate of peer mentoring, inviting final year students to speak with second years about their experience. Enterprise ambassadors take things to a whole new level, and I was highly impressed at their commitment to the company and success in sourcing new hires.

Of course there is no point having outstanding Campus Brand Managers if there is not a quality brand to promote. For most of my decade of working in placements, I've had to follow the work of Enterprise from a distance, as the students I was working with required roles in line with their course criteria. However, there is much to admire, not least the quality and quantity of accolades picked up in recent years. There is clearly a positive ethos and strong set of values ingrained into company which was evident not just in the ambassadors but also with the members of the talent acquisition team who were present. Many of the recruiters have been working in the company for quite some time, which has allowed them to build sustained relationships with placement and careers teams across their regions. As somebody who has recently starting working with Business students, I am already developing strong links with Enterprise for both Management Trainee and Corporate HQ opportunities which should bear fruit in the next placement cycle.

Interior design at Enterprise HQ - all about Careers
It is not just the people at Enterprise that impresses me, but also their digital profile. The Enterprise Careers website is a textbook example of getting things right. Content is rich, including blog articles, video profiles, details of the recruitment process and most importantly for me, access to the recruitment team. On many careers websites, you are lucky to find a generic email address, let alone a named contact. Enterprise recruiters are among the most accessible in student recruitment, with contact details and social media accounts listed to encourage engagement; something I would like to see as standard across the industry.

Back to Campus Brand Managers, and having seen for myself just how effective they can be for Enterprise, I won't be at all surprised to see more companies adopt similar schemes to promote their brand. Sure, you sometimes get one off events where free cups of coffee are given out adorned with a company logo, but for a truly effective sustained campaign, the model of employing former placement students to provide a regular campus presence, working in tandem with talent acquisition specialists to identify future hires, present a powerful option for employers seeking emerging talent in the crowded market of graduate recruitment.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Will to Succeed

If you're a student who has not yet managed to secure a placement, the chances are by now you are starting to feel a little despondent. You may have friends who are starting work next week or perhaps have already had their placements commence, and yet you find yourself still making applications, still hoping for that positive email to come through after an interview. It has been a long slog since the Autumn and you've not yet been rewarded for your efforts.

While there are still placements to apply for, never give up. You've come this far and it would be a shame for all those painstaking hours making applications and preparing for interviews to go to waste. I'm working with many students like you right now and their shared attribute is resilience; the will to succeed and achieve their goal. Between now and September many of them will get the placement offers their dedication deserves.

It doesn't matter when you secure your placement, it is seeing through the task and getting to the finish line line which is most important. It takes guts and determination to keep going when others have already finished The Great Placement Race but keep going and your Placement Officers will be cheering you from the sidelines.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

PlaceNet: Thanks for the memories

Next month I will be standing down from my role as Trustee for PlaceNet. It isn’t as a result of a messy divorce or disagreement with my colleagues, who I have thoroughly enjoyed working with over the course of the last three years. It is more a question of family commitments taking priority and not being able to give the same amount of time that I have volunteered after joining in 2013.

Since I first had contact with PlaceNet, after meeting the Chair at the National Placement and Internship Awards, I’ve had a great time attending conferences, both as a delegate and presenter. I gained experience in handling communications for an organisation, and helped with promoting Master Class events. Most importantly, I have had the pleasure of meeting a large number of extremely diligent placement professionals, who share my passion for helping students with their fledgling careers and promoting the virtues of work-based learning.

When Graham met Matthias

A big thank you to Matthias, Ginny, Mike, Sarah, Alex, Christine, Vanetta and Jan for letting me be part of the gang over the past three years. I wish you all well and am sure the upcoming #PlaceNet16 Conference in Birmingham will be a roaring success.