TikTok, Bumble, others rent college students as model ambassadors
Companies like TikTok and Bumble are hiring students to work as brand ambassadors on campus. These jobs pay off better than typical college jobs like food service and retail – and provide valuable work experience.
Students say they learned about marketing, content creation, and management while working as brand ambassadors – and expanded their network by connecting with other campus representatives across the country. And in a highly competitive internship and job market, the experience of being a brand ambassador is a way to stand out, the students said.
“My life changed with the TikTok Ambassador Program,” said Bita Motiie, a senior at the University of North Texas who studied marketing.
Bita Motiie, a senior at the University of North Texas, says she has opened many job opportunities as a brand ambassador for TikTok.
Photo: Michael Chavira
Motiie has been working as a campus rep for the social media platform since fall 2019 and said this has helped her recognize her interest in branding and building online communities – and advance her career.
“I had so many new job opportunities,” said Motiie. “Even at the place where I currently work, they hired me specifically because I had experience as a TikTok brand ambassador.”
Campus ambassador programs also benefit brands. A study by Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and research firm Keller Fay Group found that 82% of consumers are likely to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer (a person with greater reach) than the average person – although not a celebrity – in a very specific category or demographic such as college students).
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“These programs are a win-win as they provide brands with valuable insight while students gain marketing experience as they near graduation,” said Julie Jatlow, partner at Fuse, an agency that runs college ambassador programs for TikTok , Amazon and other brands.
Depending on the company, campus ambassador duties typically include posting content on social media, handing out goods or samples, hosting branded events, and reaching out to student organizations.
“Finding creative and passionate students whose traits are specifically tailored to the brand’s DNA is of the utmost importance,” said Jatlow. “We are always on the lookout for proactive students with drive and enthusiasm.”
Student representatives are usually compensated by an hourly rate or a monthly grant and can work on their own schedule. In fact, campus ambassador wages are between $ 15 and $ 25 an hour, according to job postings on the employment website. This is well above the hourly rate for jobs common among college students, like food and beverage service, which pays around $ 11 an hour, and retail sales, which are around $ 13 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Hour pays.
“It’s a lot more flexible than a normal job as a working student,” said Cedoni Francis, a 2020 graduate of Vanderbilt University who worked at the school for brands like TikTok, dating app Bumble and beer company Anheuser-Busch.
Cedoni Francis, a 2020 graduate of Vanderbilt University, worked as a student brand ambassador for TikTok, Bumble and Anheuser-Busch. She now works in marketing at Google.
Photo: Warner Tidwell
Francis, who is now an associate product marketing manager at Google, said her experience with campus ambassador programs helped her develop skills like time management and stakeholder engagement.
In particular, her experience with TikTok gave her a crash course on viral marketing, expertise that she uses in her current job.
“It’s a good primer,” said Francis. “There are certain things that other people have to teach how to do that. I don’t have to learn how to do it.”
Peter Corrigan, assistant director of employer and alumni connections for Student Engagement and Career Development at the University of Arizona, said working as brand ambassadors on campus helps students build key skills.
“Students improve their communication skills when they speak to a large number of people who are trying to create brand awareness on campus,” Corrigan said. “It takes students out of their comfort zone and gives them sales experience with companies they might want to work for.”
Candice Nguyen, a third year public administration student at Drexel University, represents brands such as Bumble, Victoria’s Secret Pink and Red Bull on her campus.
Candice Nguyen, a student at Drexel University, represents brands such as Bumble, Victoria’s Secret Pink and Red Bull on her campus.
Source: Candice Nguyen
Like Francis, Nguyen said her work as a campus ambassador resulted in work experience. She recently completed a certification in project management and is a full-time intern in a project management role.
“I realized that a lot of my job was project management, like running events and being able to oversee and coordinate with teams,” said Nguyen of her experience as a brand ambassador.
Montserrat Lewin Mejia, a senior at Michigan State University, began campus ambassador programs in her second semester of her junior year as a representative of retail brand Rent the Runway before the Covid-19 pandemic closed the program. She is now a brand ambassador for Bumble and the fashion start-up Qatch.
Montserrat Lewin Mejia, an engineering student at Michigan State University, has worked as a brand ambassador for Rent the Runway, Bumble and the fashion start-up Qatch. Your new career goal is to become a full-time influencer.
Photo: Mindy Melinda Carmack
As an engineering student, Mejia said that the campus brand ambassador programs introduced her to the world of influencer marketing and helped her achieve new career goals.
“I’ve had a really big goal since I started, potentially becoming a full-time influencer,” Mejia said.
TikTok campus rep, Tatum Riley, Junior at Duke University, sees college ambassador programs help build brand awareness. Riley and her brand colleagues on campus attempted to “personalize” advertising through catering events and targeted contact with Duke students.
Tatum Riley, Junior at Duke University, represents TikTok on their campus.
Photo: Griffin Riley
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.