Campus reps always gain experience, sometimes get paid
Published: Monday, March 28, 2011
Updated: Monday, March 28, 2011 23:03
Money and real-world experience are two invaluable words to the ears of many Miami University students. Most students gain one or both with internships or on-campus jobs, but rarely can they both come together. One solution to both issues can be a job as a campus representative for a company.
Miami junior marketing major Colin Vidika has been the student brand manager for Red Bull since January. He said he works and plans on and off-campus events to subtly promote the brand.
"(Marketing and working for Red Bull) tie together well. I'm in charge of advertising, promoting and marketing an idea and making it happen," he said.
Vidika said his job is to represent the company with good times, so he often brings some Red Bull to parties or helps with big events, like the Green Beer Day Ying Yang Twins concert at Brick Street Bar and Grill. Vidika is also planning to co-sponsor an informational event for the water-ski team April 6. He said he's also planning Red Bull Tum Tum Pa for April 20. It's a on-campus musical competition where students can win big prizes for harmonizing classroom objects and Red Bull cans, he said.
And no, he doesn't drive the Red Bull car, although he helps plan when the car will make appearances, he said. A member of the Red Bull Wiiings Team, often coming from Cincinnati or Columbus, drives the car, he said.
American Eagle campus representative Dave Williams, a senior marketing major, said because of his experience planning promotional events, he has learned to create and plan more effective advertising methods.
"I joke after seeing the outreach programs, ‘Is this the best they can do?' A lot of their strategies are a waste of money," he said.
Williams said one of the projects American Eagle wanted him and his co-worker, sophomore supply chain and operations management major Tarah Cook to do was a flash-mob of people wearing the company's new swimsuit line, in the cold of the winter.
"I thought it was ill-advised but American Eagle thought it would be good to promote their new spring stuff," he said.
Williams said because American Eagle wanted the Miami team to hold the flash mob, they complied.
Williams said he and Cook are planning a campus scavenger hunt, where students can find American Eagle products. Students can look at the Miami American Eagle Facebook page for more information.
Both Vidika and Williams are paid based on performance, which includes coordinating or holding a certain number of events in a certain time span, and increasing the attendance at each event. Williams said he is paid about $1100 to $1200 in all for his efforts during the year. However, other campus representatives may not be paid at all.
Miami senior Zoe Hesp was chosen as one of the 1000 country-wide campus representatives for Trojan's Great American Condom Safe-Site. After learning about the opportunity to pass out free condoms to students and to promote safe sex from a friend, she applied.
"I had to justify how I was going to pass them out. Valentine's Day, I got a box of 500 condoms of 11 varieties," she said.
Hesp said she was surprised at people's reaction to her job as a safe sex representative. She said it was difficult to pass them out to people on campus.
"I got a negative response from people," she said. "It was really hard to pass them out. Individuals were very non-open about taking them."
Hesp said she donated most of the condoms to the Women's Center for Safe Sex Week, to a fraternity, to friends and to the public.
Miami marketing professor David Rosenthal said campus representatives can be a great way for students, especially business majors, to apply skills to the real world.
"When students have this opportunity to market branded products, it gives them the opportunity to use the skills they learn in class," he said. "It adds dimension to their resumes. Often, students are offered full-time positions after graduation."
Rosenthal said students aren't limited to campus representative jobs in order to gain business experience.
"What sets Miami apart from other schools is that we offer similar experiences as part of classes," he said. "In marketing, students have at least three or more experiences working with real companies. They're involved with projects for companies. It's a huge differentiating factor because it's real-world experience and a lot more fun than just listening to lectures."
Although Miami does not offer independent study credit for campus representative jobs, students can receive credit for internships by signing up for zero or one-credit hours. If students opt for receiving zero credit hours, they do not have to pay the fee for a Miami credit hour and it will not count toward their major or minor, but will have their internship on their transcript.
"Students can either pay for a credit hour or pay a small processing fee and receive no credits, but have it appear on their transcript," he said.
However, even though an internship may be seen as something positive, the field of business opportunities for students can often be deceiving, Rosenthal said.
Companies will often take advantage of students by requiring students to receive academic credit because they can skirt the minimum wage laws, he said.
"Students should be paid for their efforts in internships," he said. "We fought a Civil War about slavery, there's no reason to bring it back. If a company says they can't find the money to pay students to work, I say phooey."
United States Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) laws say internships can be unpaid if the people working are "trainees." Under the FLSA, "persons who, without any express or implied compensation agreement, work for their own advantage on the premises of another may not be employees. Workers who receive work-based training may fall into this category and may not be employees for purposes of the FLSA."