7 Ways to Build Your Brand On Campus Beyond Career Fairs

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By now, you know that career fairs are the cornerstone of building your brand on campus and you’ve got some clear ideas and strategies for making the most of your career fair participation. But in order to really market your company and build your brand on campus, you’ll eventually want to move beyond career fairs. There are countless possibilities for how you can get involved on campus, but we’ve narrowed it down to seven. Read on for the lowdown on what they are and how you can get involved.

Before You Start: Deciding Where to Go

Before you book any plane tickets or order any water bottles emblazoned with your company’s logo, you’ll need to come up with a strategy for deciding where to focus your efforts.

Many companies adopt a tiered approach to categorizing schools. You can evaluate your top-tier schools by considering things like academic programs they offer, how close they are to your office and where the positions you’re recruiting for will be based, and past ROI on that campus.

It’s also worthwhile to perform a competitive analysis. Look at companies that are trying to recruit the same type of students. Where are they going? How much success are they having? You may wish to invest more in those campuses to boost your competitiveness—or drop them altogether and focus your efforts where there is less competition.

Corporate alumni can be a strong determining factor, but don’t be afraid to take a critical look and see if those connections really are benefitting your recruiting efforts. The main point is that you want to make sure that your campus visits are strategic and not just the result of throwing a dart at a map or doing what your company has always done.

Keep in mind that putting a college in your second or third tier doesn’t mean that you still can’t get involved there, but you may want to consider virtual involvement rather than spending time and money for travel.

7 On-Campus Events Beyond Career Fairs

1. Info Sessions

Info sessions are a core part of on-campus recruiting, and they’re often organized around other events like career fairs. This is an opportunity for you to evangelize your brand by talking about your company, industry, and what you do. There are often various channels for setting up info sessions, including through the campus career center, specific departments, and student groups. Keep in mind that even if the hosting group or organization will promote your info session, you’ll also want to get the word out there through your own channels. This will ensure you engage the students you’re hoping to attract and further build your brand on campus.

2. Affiliate Programs

Employer affiliate programs are available at many colleges and universities. Some career centers have affiliate programs that can provide access, typically to all students they serve. Affiliate programs typically have a yearly fee that your company pays, and membership can be available at different levels depending on the depth of engagement you’d like to have in the department. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) departments seem to have a greater likelihood of offering a formalized affiliate program on campus.

Don’t worry if a department at a university you’re interested in working with does not have a formal affiliate program. This doesn’t mean that you can’t work with them; it just means you may need to take a more grassroots approach.

One last thought about corporate affiliate programs: Take some time to think about the best person or people from your company to get involved. Your university recruiting department may want to make the initial contact, but when it comes time to sending representatives to events, it might make more sense to send someone from upper management or a hiring manager from within the department that’s looking to hire. It makes a difference to have people who “speak the language” of the faculty and students.

3. Classroom Presentations

According to the 2012 NACE Recruiting Benchmarks Survey, the three most important aspects of on-campus recruiting are:

1. Relationships with Faculty

2. Career Fairs

3. Student Organizations

At many schools, there’s a process set up for employers to request the ability to present in specific classrooms and also for faculty to request employers to speak in their classrooms. If you can find these types of programs, definitely take advantage of them. If something doesn’t exist, there’s nothing wrong with doing grassroots work.

Keep in mind that faculty have three areas they focus on: Research, Teaching, and Service. Service often involves activities like participating as a faculty advisor to a student group. If you’re already involved with student groups, this can reinforce your relationship with key faculty members. Also keep in mind that grad assistants and teaching assistants are a great resource since they often have the most student contact and classroom airtime.

Learn more about developing relationships with faculty in Dr. John Sullivan’s article on ERE, “Building Relationships with Professors to Gain a Recruiting Edge.”

4. On-Campus Interviewing

You can actually visit a college campus and conduct interviews for open positions with students there. Generally the school’s career center can arrange a room or a space for you, and this is generally held in tandem with other recruiting activities on campus. For many schools, there is a complex and stringent schedule, so be sure to take time to thoroughly research and understand the policies of each school you plan to visit.

Just to give a quick example, some schools offer open schedules (where students get a slot based on requirements that you set), while other schools use a “preselect” system. In the preselect system, you review the applicants within a specific time frame and then choose who you’d like to interview and pick alternates as well. Students then have a chance to sign up during their preferred interview slot. The process works well, but it is labor intensive and does take a commitment on your part to keep up with the dates.

5. Hackathons

Hackathons are a popular option for attracting computer science, technology, and engineering students. For example, the Mhacks hackathon at the University of Michigan sold out 1,200 tickets in a single day. The main way for you to get involved in a hackathon is through employer sponsorship. This will allow you to send a representative who can give tech talks and info sessions throughout the event.

6. Guest Judging Panels

You can also engage with projects and student groups or academic departments by volunteering to guest judge a panel. Some of these events can be found through affiliate programs, but many more happen outside of those programs. For example, Boise State held the National Student Advertising Competition. Glidden was the sponsor and was used as the case study for the event.

This is a different avenue to get you on campus, engaged with students, and reinforcing your brand, but the end results are similar to other types of on-campus events (building a talent pipeline of students who will eventually apply to internships and entry-level positions at your company).

7. Marketing Your Consumer Brand & Employer Brand Simultaneously

When getting involved with on-campus events, being creative can be a huge advantage. Thinking outside the box can set you apart and creates a memorable experience with your brand. Global marketing company Nielsen launched the TOPTEN Tour as a way to promote their new app as well as the career and internship opportunities within the company. They are incorporating food (an obvious winner with college students) and other giveaways. So now we leave it up to you—what is your company doing that could be combined with your university recruiting goals?

Final thoughts

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to participating in on-campus events. Each company has unique attributes and recruiting goals, so your on-campus event strategy should be tailored specifically to you. Don’t be afraid to get creative—this will help you stand out and reinforce a strong employer brand. No matter what type of event you decide to make a part of your strategy, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. You can (and should!) enlist help from students, professors, and your agency or marketing department to make sure your message gets out there. And finally, if you need any extra help with promoting your events, just let us know. AfterCollege can help make sure the right students attend your on-campus events, and we can also promote your employer brand through scholarship and hackathon sponsorships. Learn more by visiting our Employer Events Page.


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