Coaching Students to Become Dynamic Program Ambassadors
Posted October 13, 2015 by Mark Perna
A student who is passionate about their education will light up other students with that same enthusiasm like nothing else can — but how do we coach our students to be the kind of program ambassadors that make a real difference? It all starts with the thread that runs through everything I do at TFS: getting the right students, in the right programs, in the right reasons.
In my previous blog about effective career nights, I talk about structuring your event so that your current students are your visitors’ first point of contact. This sounds simple, but there’s a lot that goes into preparing your students to be the face of your program in a compelling and attractive way. The following best practices will help you mobilize your students to make the career night a landmark occasion that they and your entire organization can look back on with pride.
Tell your students the goal of the event: we want to attract more of the right students to our program, students just like you who are motivated and dedicated and who see the light at the end of the tunnel. This will set the tone and start instilling their eagerness to recruit for a cause bigger than themselves.
Arm your students with two vital pieces of information: what they love about the program and what they’re going to do with it, their personal Light at the End of the Tunnel, once they finish. If you’re using the Career Tree™ in your classrooms, this discussion will already be underway. These talking points will be what they say to visitors once they introduce themselves and the program.
Strategically pair students at each station based on their differing goals and outcomes. When possible, a student who wants to dive right into his career should be stationed with another student who is planning to complete advanced training or go to college. This will help provide a relatable persona for the visitors, who may come in with definite plans about what comes next after program completion. Seeing the full spectrum of possibilities playing out with real students will be, for many, an eye-opening experience that will reinforce the expanded opportunities message of Education with Purpose™.
Involve your students in planning the career night. Your students are closer to the target audience’s age and may have fresh ideas to attract and engage them that you or I would never think of. Allowing students to make a project of the stations and see their ideas come to life will also create ownership and pride that will only strengthen their commitment to the program.
Consider friendly inter-program competition as a motivator. If you have the right students in your classroom, chances are they already feel a sense of loyalty to their program. That can be used as a motivating factor as they prepare for the career night and strive to show why their program is the best in the organization.
Reward your students for their participation. You know your students best, so make it something they’ll enjoy. Let them know you don’t take them for granted and that their participation was key to the event’s success.
It may take some additional preparation to coach your students to become compelling program ambassadors, but the results are worth it. A career night starring your current students is a win-win for everyone — fueling the excitement of visitors, igniting pride and commitment in students, and ultimately bringing in more of those right students to keep enrollment, retention, and performance growing in your organization.
Mark C. Perna is a best-selling author and the founder of TFS in Cleveland, Ohio, a full-service strategic consulting firm whose mission is to share and support every client's passion for making a difference.