What makes a great digital student ambassador?
Finding a great digital student ambassador is easier than you might think. There are enthusiastic students on every campus, loads of whom are looking for opportunities to build their skills and experience.
But if you’re new to the world of digital student ambassador programs, you might be unsure of what to look for in your participants.
Many of the qualities your regular student ambassadors possess will be useful in a digital student ambassador, but there are a few differences – some of which might surprise you.
Let’s explore the top qualities to seek out in your next digital student ambassador.
The Importance of Strong Communication Skills
While all student ambassadors must have great communication skills, digital student ambassadors, as suggested by their title, need to be digital natives as well. That’s because the ability to communicate effectively online is different from being able to provide a presentation to an in-person tour or orientation group.
Each of your digital student ambassadors needs to be a great communicator online, regardless of platform. They should be as effective and comfortable on social media as they are in a chat room.
Their writing should always be clear and concise while still coming across as open and friendly. They might even know which emoji to use and when!
This type of skill can easily be assessed in the application stage. Ask each applicant for examples of digital content they’ve created in the past or send them a few example questions and see how they respond.
Being Proactive and Engaging
While they need to be able to communicate effectively, each of your digital student ambassadors should also be able to truly engage with prospective students – on a personal and authentic level.
Look for students who are friendly, excited to get to know prospective students and ready to help in any way they can. Remember, digital student ambassadors are just coming off of their own higher ed beginnings – those with empathy for prospective students will thrive.
Lastly, students who go out of their way to create compelling, engaging and empathetic content will be successful in the position and an asset to your ambassador team.
Time Management: A Crucial Skill for Digital Ambassadors
Naturally, digital student ambassadors tend to work more on their own and away from other ambassadors or student roles. When they’re working – whether they’re creating content, creating social media material or chatting on an online platform like Unibuddy – it’s likely they’re doing it on their own time.
Combining these responsibilities with other school-related tasks, such as studying or taking part in extracurricular activities, can get overwhelming quickly. Finding ambassadors who can organize their time effectively is vital to your program’s success.
During the interview process, ask about how they organize their tasks, prioritize their work and manage their time to ensure you’re working with students who can manage the workload.
The Value of Taking Initiative in Digital Outreach
Because digital ambassadors work independently online, they won’t be as directly managed as their in-person counterparts. This means that each ambassador will manage themselves, including their time, projects and conversations.
When interviewing to fill the position, it’s important to seek out students who are self-starters and able to do the work without having to be asked. The last thing you want is for an ambassador to leave a prospective student “on read” because they didn’t answer questions independently, redirect inquiries, or know when to ask for help.
During the interview process, ask them some “tough questions” they might receive and see how they respond, or what they do.
The Role of Enthusiasm in Student Ambassador Success
More than anything else, your digital student ambassadors need to show enthusiasm and passion for your institution. Positive interactions between prospective and current students are what drive any student ambassador program (in-person or digital) and result in such high conversion.
A potential digital ambassador’s love for and dedication to your institution should be easy to detect during the application and interview process. If you find yourself having to question a student’s enthusiasm, they probably aren’t the right fit.
Cultural Awareness and Inclusivity
A good ambassador knows not only how to connect, but is culturally-competent and able to be inclusive to a wide variety of students from other cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles. Honouring the diversity of your students, and having representative ambassadors can help prospective students feel like they’re included and belong at your school.
Cultural awareness removes a barrier that students have in accessing higher education. With so many hurdles to overcome in getting an education, including tuition, social anxieties, and maintaining top academic performance, having a current student share their experiences on how your higher education institution has supported their group and shown cultural respect can be the relieving welcome mat that you hope to roll out.
This can be particularly important to international students who are not submersed in the culture of your higher education or even the country, so with Unibuddy as a bridge to link a nervous international student with someone who has already walked the beginning of their journey, this reassurance can mean the world that they won’t be out of their element, and that their experience will be considered important by the school they attend.
Ensuring that your digital ambassadors are comfortable across many platforms will help them (and your institution) be successful in making the connections that encourage prospective students to apply, enroll and attend.
It’s not uncommon for a really great interaction between two people to be hindered or dampened by technological hiccups, like a disruption of service, a less-than-seamless experience can sometimes break an interaction and leave the individuals feeling lost.
Digital ambassadors should be able to adeptly navigate social media, virtual meeting platforms and all of the other tools that you use, like Unibuddy. Knowing how best to communicate for each platform and the target audience can be an engaging part of the experience for a prospective student. Social and technological knowledge helps an ambassador read through the screen whether or not a silence or inadequate reply is disinterest, hesitancy or something else. Having this instinct about an interaction is important when there are no nonverbal cues to go off.
Knowledgeable About the Institution
As current students of your institution, your ambassadors know a lot of what’s going on, the feel of the campus, the culture and lifestyle of the student community, and all the things that can’t quite be described by a webpage. They should also have a considerable amount of knowledge on programs, resources and support services–but if they don’t, this isn’t something to worry about. Training ambassadors on what they need to know, what the most common questions are and how to answer them can be enough to get them started.
The more important thing is assessing what your ambassadors do when they run into a situation where they’re unsure of what the answer is. Are they able to find it and share that information? Do they direct prospective students to the right resource? Ensuring that an ambassador is ready for any question doesn’t mean ensuring that they’re the most knowledgeable resource on campus–that’s an impossible task. It means that they’re able to thoughtfully come up with an adequate solution on their own and leave a prospective student feeling good about their interaction.
Final thoughts on finding your digital ambassadors
Finding students with the traits needed for the digital ambassador program may seem overwhelming – but chances are, they’re right in front of you!
Most higher education institutions are filled to the brim with students who love being part of the campus community. Why wouldn’t they want the chance to talk about their experiences and love for the school with prospective students and future applicants?
Once you’ve found the most engaging, driven and passionate students, take them online! Allow them to create a sense of belonging and watch your recruitment efforts flourish.