How far would you go to get a job? | Careers on The Gateway

How far would you go to get a job?

Mike Barnard on the value of campus brand manager roles

High unemployment means jobseekers - especially graduate ones - will do anything to please bosses, even if it means embarrassing themselves in the process. New E4 prank show The Work Experience plays on this, filming ambitious interns who are so eager to impress their bosses they willingly take on the most ridiculous of tasks at fake London fashion PR agency Grade PR. They get stitched up until the truth is told, then they're offered real internships to make up for the humiliation.

It's great TV if you enjoy watching others squirm or wear a smile through gritted teeth, and the end result of being awarded a real internship shows how dedication to a role can bring its own rewards. In the world of work, dedication should show your inventive and creative qualities, but never be embarrassing. And an increasing number of firms want to see these qualities on campus.

More and more employers are hiring student brand managers to promote their company's brand and graduate opportunities on campus for 10 to 12 hours a week. Although largely a marketing role, employers currently offering brand manager positions come from industries as wide ranging as finance and professional services, such as KPMG and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, through to companies such as Red Bull and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, as well as recruitment firms including education specialist Teach First, graduate jobsite Milkround and even The Gateway.

The real skill comes in the way you approach these roles. Handing out fliers outside the student union or lecture theatres while wearing branded clothing might get the hours chalked up. But, if you're serious about getting the most out of the work then take advantage of your position to really engage your fellow students and prove to your employer that you're ready to go the extra mile. This isn't just a chance to put some money in the bank, but also a chance to build up your CV and potentially gain a glowing reference to show off in your graduate applications.

So think about how you can go the extra mile by networking, getting involved with existing activities or organising your own. What you do will depend on the brand you represent, but ideas could include organising a workshop with a full-time employee of the company to answer questions about graduate roles and the application process, or teaming up with your university's careers service to present at its fairs. You could ask lecturers in relevant subjects for some time at the start or end of a class to address fellow students, sponsor student union activities in return for marketing opportunities, or even get involved in events happening off-campus.

Employers want to hire people who show initiative and are willing to take on challenges. But proving you're willing to do so isn't easy if you don't have the experience to back it up. Brand manager roles might seem like simple marketing exercises that you can easily do while enjoying student life, but the way you go about completing those exercises can help improve your CV, fuel your confidence and put you on the right path for a graduate job.

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