Saturday, February 14, 2015

Working within the College Marketplace

Looking at a Pearson employment-ish opportunity took me down a whole new rabbit hole. If you think of college campuses as a sort of oasis in our otherwise sales-obsessed culture, I have bad news for you.

The actual name of the job is Pearson Campus Ambassador. You can find the whole pitch here, but let me walk you through the highlights.

The job description is a bit fuzzy. Right up front the pitch is

We're hiring students to work part-time with Pearson on campus and help students do well in their courses. You get work experience, and we help more students succeed. It's a win-win! 

But among the touted benefits are "building valuable business and career skills like problem-solving, public speaking and communication." Ambassadors can also look forward to "working side by side with faculty, Pearson staff, and others."

Under a "Responsibilities" tab, a clearer picture begins to emerge. Here's what the job involves:

Lead Pearson technology demonstrations and/or presentations for students and faculty.
Create events, activities, and opportunities that help students best use Pearson technologies.
Collect campus feedback through focus groups, surveys, and individual interviews.
Work with professionals at Pearson to promote current products and shape future ones.
Participate in conference calls, team trainings, and regularly scheduled team meetings.

And from elsewhere in the website, another description of what the job looks like:

Pearson Campus Ambassadors are instrumental in leading classroom presentations on Pearson technologies, hosting tables at book fairs, and capturing video testimonials. They also facilitate focus groups, conduct student surveys, and create projects and events specific to the student experiences on their campuses.

So, basically, the job is be a Mary Kay lady who throws Tupperware parties for Pearson on your college campus.

Pearson's been doing this for a while. Actually, everybody's been doing this for a while. Some of the obvious players like Google and Microsoft hire student "ambassadors," but I found information about ambassadors for Barnes & Noble and General Mills (trying to get your college buddies to eat breakfast strikes me as an impressive challenge).

Here's Isa Adney back in 2012 talking about her experience as a Pearson ambassador back in 2012:

I actually consult with a wonderful student ambassador program with Pearson (the leading education services company), where students are paid to be on campus to help teach students how to get the most out of their new learning materials such as Pearson's MyMathLab) through class presentations and tutoring hours. These student ambassadors get to know more people on campus, earn money to help them in school, build connections and meet mentors within the company, and gain some really great professional experience. This doesn't always happen while working at a fast-food restaurant in college. 

One can see that this works well for the company-- a low-cost low-maintenance high-impact marketing strategy that doubles as a recruitment program, while helping get young people at the very beginning of their adult careers to think of corporations as their good buddies. And you don't have to sell your soul-- just your friends.

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