How to build relationships with Professors, Career Services, and Student Organizations on Campus

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

  • Once you've signed on your first student from a school, or have a student returning to campus after an internship, they can be a valuable resource for opening communication channels with key campus stakeholders

  • The worst thing you can possibly do is ask to pitch your company in the first 10 minutes of class.

  • Ask the professor what they're currently teaching in class and then find someone at your organization who could provide a quick presentation about how that concept or topic fits into the work that they do.

  • Open yourself up to creative ways to reach students by asking career services what their goals are for the semester

  • Provide relevant experiences to student organizations, attendance should be higher and don't forget to ask for a resume book.


Not sure who else here had a candy jar at their grandmother's house but for me, it was always the most sought-after treasure amongst the cousins. Only thing standing between us and the candy jar: The GateKeeper a.k.a my grandmother.


For companies looking to hire early talent, the candy are the top student on campus and the GateKeepers......Professors and Career services.


To convince my grandma that I was the deserving grandchild, it meant providing value in the form of chores. Then, and ONLY then, were we rewarded with the coveted candy jar.


So what value can you provide to the campus gatekeepers so that they allow you to put your hand in their candy jar?


How do you build relationships with Professors?

How do you get professors to let you speak about your organization in class?

How do you build relationships with Career services?

How do you convince career services to give you special treatment?

How do you build relationships with Student Organization Leaders?

How do you nurture these relationships semester after semester?


How do you build relationships with Professors?

You Don't, at least not alone. Once you've signed on your first student from a school, or have a student returning to campus after an internship, they can be a valuable resource for opening communication channels with key campus stakeholders. Have them be your voice for building connections on campus. Once you've identified key gatekeepers on campus (again by asking your campus ambassador where your ideal candidate might be), have them reach out via email. Continue reading to understand what the content of that email should be.


How do you get professors to let you speak about your organization in class?

The worst thing you can possibly do is ask to pitch your company in the first 10 minutes of class. Professors have a job to do, make sure students tuition is spent equipping the next generation of the workforce to be able to perform as productive members of society. Having another accounting firm come into class to pass out pens and make the same old sorry pitch every other firm does, doesn't fit into that very well. You may get lucky but after one or two times, the professor won't find the interaction mutually beneficial enough to continue on.


What you should do: Ask the professor what they're currently teaching in class. Then find someone at your organization who could provide a quick presentation about how that concept or topic fits into the work that they do. Not only are you validating the topic of discussion (and it's importance) with students, you are contributing to the professors goal of professing relevant knowledge to their them.


Another benefit of approaching a professor this way is that you will also come across more authentic to the person you're really trying to sell: The Student. Because so few companies take the time to provide a relevant presentation to students, if you're the company that does this, you will stand out in their minds the next time they see your company name on a virtual event guest list or at on a banner at a career fair.


How do you build relationships with Career services?

Over and over again we hear from career services personnel who have real frustrations with various companies who ask them for a branded marketing event for their students. The most common reaction: No. How can you make sure you're not in this bucket?


First: Ask the career services personnel what their goals are for the semester? What is their primary focus when serving their students? By approaching career services this way, you show that you aren't just being transactional but are actually attempting to fit nicely in with what they are trying to accomplish.


This also accomplishing a second thing: By asking this question instead, even if the career services don't mind company marketing events, you're opening yourself up to creative way to reach students. Virtual Events are all the rage right now but the truth is, students aren't showing up for them. In our recent survey done of students at Virginia Tech, 9.4% of students pay attention to more than just a few minutes of a virtual event. The inability to reach students on campus has forced companies to get creative and the ones that figure it out will have landed on a gold mine.


So when career services gets back to you with their goals for the semester, how can you help? By providing relevant events. We reach out to career services to get introductions to the companies they help. At first we just reached out thinking they'd find our mission valuable enough to make the intros. WRONG. It's not their job to figure out why we're valuable, they are too busy focusing on their own goals. This has changed everything for us and our ability to get career services to work with us. Now we find out what their challenges are in providing their top sponsoring companies value. One recent example what one career services leader who told us that companies could not get students to join their virtual events. After digging into this further we realized that every virtual event was the same marketing pitch done with a powerpoint and a recruiter who has way too much on their plate. Students had lost interest. We realized we had an opportunity to help their office help their top companies by providing virtual event training so that students would tune back in. If you don't believe there's a difference between a good and bad virtual event, you can read our blog on it here.


So in the same way we found out how to help career services based on their challenges to start building that relationship, you can find out how to best help them help their students simply by asking. Then, provide a tailored event or approach based on their needs and feedback.



How do you convince career services to give you special treatment?

Alright so this one was a trick question. The answer is: You don't. You provide them with value based on their needs and this will often accomplish both of your goals at the same time.


How do you build relationships with Student Organization Leaders?

If you've read this far, you probably already know where this one is going: MUTUAL VALUE.

Have your previous interns identify organizations on campus with the talent you're looking for. Then have them reach out on your behalf to see what their goals are. You can also assume that they are looking for RELEVANT events that help their members grow in whatever the purpose of the group is.


Again look no further than our blog on Virtual Events, to learn how to host an effective one that keeps members engaged.


Student organizations are probably the easiest of the 3 groups we've written about here because students can oftentimes be a lot more proactive about seeking relevant experiences so as long as you can provide that, they will usually engage with you.


There are a few other reasons why partnering with student organizations can be a great idea. Oftentimes when a company or professional organization does an event with you, it is oftentimes linked to some sort of attendance metric within the organization so you can be assured that turnout will be higher than a regular event.


The second great thing about partnering with student organizations is that a lot of them have resume books of all their members that they provide to partnering companies. You can also inquire about if they contain such a book of resumes and immediately you have 30-100 resume's of students who care enough about what they're studying to also join relevant organizations.


How do you nurture these relationships semester after semester?

By putting more into than you take out, and it's not hard to do. If you continue to provide valuable events and experiences for the people you're trying to build relationships with, you will build them strong. Stop thinking of virtual events as the quick throwing out of a flyer. Re-frame these experiences in your mind as invaluable relationships that require attention in developing relevant information and voices. Again, this is a lot easier when you have a campus ambassador managing these relationships. Since they are also a student, they know what a valuable event that they would want to show up for is. You minimize the risk of just another run of the mill presentation that ruins your chances of future participation.


Conclusion

  • Once you've signed on your first student from a school, or have a student returning to campus after an internship, they can be a valuable resource for opening communication channels with key campus stakeholders.

  • The worst thing you can possibly do is ask to pitch your company in the first 10 minutes of class.

  • Ask the professor what they're currently teaching in class and then find someone at your organization who could provide a quick presentation about how that concept or topic fits into the work that they do.

  • Open yourself up to creative ways to reach students by asking career services what their goals are for the semester

  • Provide relevant experiences to student organizations, attendance should be higher, and don't forget to ask for a resume book.

That's it. Move towards finding ways to provide value to your campus stakeholders and away from transactional requests.

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