Student ambassadors represent variety of brands on campus

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Image courtesy of Gabriella Policella

Gabriella Policella, a junior marketing major, was on the 2020-21 Pitt PINK campus team.

By Donata Massimiani, Staff Writer

​​While some students hold part-time jobs at coffee shops or restaurants to make extra money, some students, like Gabriella Policella, are able to learn career-specific skills as ambassadors for well known brands.

“Being a part of the PINK campus team helped me narrow down my career path and realize what my job could look like. Social media marketing is such a new and developing field, so it’s hard to grasp where that job market is going,” Policella said. “Since working with PINK, I’ve learned a lot more about digital marketing logistics such as search engine optimization and brand strategy.”

Student brand ambassadors are college students hired to represent specific businesses on campus. Payment, perks and responsibilities vary from company to company. Brands will provide money, store credit or merchandise to ambassadors for their time promoting the brand.

Policella, a junior marketing major, was on the 2020-21 PINK campus team at Pitt. PINK’s ambassador program has two levels — campus representatives and members on each campus team. There are two campus representatives and four campus team members at Pitt. The campus representatives get paid “above minimum wage,” according to Policella, and members of the campus team receive free merchandise from the company. 

Policella heard about PINK’s ambassador program through members of her sorority, Delta Zeta. She also saw the position advertised on social media and decided to apply. After applying, Policella completed an interview and was accepted for the position on the campus team. 

PINK conducted Policella’s interview via Zoom because of COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time. She said the brand representatives made the experience “really conversational and fun.”

“I answered a series of behavioral interview questions, but they were also really interested in what PINK meant to me and my personal style,” Policella said. “I helped them style a couple of pieces during the interview, and it got me excited to work on that further once I was accepted.”

PINK’s campus team assigns different roles for each student within the team. Policella’s role was “social guru,” which means she was responsible for staying up to date on social media trends, creating content, posting schedules and coming up with captions for posts. 

Policella said she thought this ambassadorship was a great way to build her resumé. She was excited to work with a company she already knew.

“The social media exposure was nice and a great way to build my portfolio as a marketing major,” Policella said. “It was a fun way to meet people and learn more about the industry.”

Policella helped unveil PINK’s “I am Enough” campaign that focused on mental health. Policella said the Victoria’s Secret brand is undergoing a lot of changes, and she was happy to be a part of it. 

“The industry is changing and I’m glad PINK is helping lead those efforts. Seeing representation of all kinds of people in their branding made me feel good about working for the company,” Policella said. 

Mollie McFarland, a junior biological sciences major, began an ambassadorship with Saxbys Coffee this semester when they opened their campus locations.

“I have fun making the content and it’s a good way for me to take a break from things academic,” McFarland said. “I get something out of it but it’s also a way I can focus my creativity and take a break from my studies.”

A representative from Saxbys reached out to McFarland in August on Instagram and recommended she apply for an ambassador position. She filled out an application the company emailed her and began working with the company in September.

Saxbys’ ambassadorship is social media-based. Ambassadors have to make four posts on their Instagram stories and one picture on their Instagram feed about the brand each month. Saxbys also asks the ambassadors to post one or two TikToks each month promoting the brand.

Saxbys ambassadors receive $40 in Saxbys store credit monthly for completing all requirements by their deadline. McFarland said she liked the incentives and felt it was worth putting effort into the social media posts. 

“It’s pretty relaxed. If you don’t meet all the things they want you to do, they still give you credit for the things you do complete. I think it definitely is worth it,” McFarland said. 

Olivia Wagner, a junior marketing and supply chain management major, has been a Gopuff ambassador since May. Wagner said during the COVID-19 pandemic she frequently used Gopuff, a 24/7 delivery service for food, drinks, cleaning supplies, home needs and over-the-counter medication. She began to see people she knew posting about Gopuff on social media and decided to apply for their ambassador program. 

Wagner said promoting Gopuff is the main goal of the ambassador program and this is accomplished in a variety of ways. 

“I do chalk murals around campus and some other people speak to different organizations,” Wagner said. “We try as many ways to get involved and hit different student demographics.”

Gopuff’s ambassador program has both social media and in-person responsibilities. Gopuff ambassadors are required to make a variety of social media posts across Instagram, Tik Tok and Facebook each month. Ambassadors are also required to go to different locations around campus to hand out promo cards and explain why the company is “great,” according to Wagner. 

Gopuff ambassadors receive a base pay monthly and get bonuses for extra TikToks, new customer sign-ups or extra Instagram stories posted. Wagner said she’s unsure if she can disclose her exact pay. They can also receive Gopuff credit and gift cards for different brands. 

Wagner knew she wanted to do an ambassadorship and was excited to get one with Gopuff. 

“There were a couple I was looking into, but I knew I already liked Gopuff. I also knew other people doing it,” Wagner said. “I felt like Gopuff was the perfect fit.”

She said Gopuff ambassadors attend headquarters meetings where they learn more about the company. 

“It’s really interesting to see the marketing side of it,” Wagner said. “They offer different workshops for things like resumé review. It’s been nice to develop professionally while also supporting a brand I like.”

Similar to Wagner, Policella wanted to gain marketing experience in a business setting, and said she looks back on her experience with PINK very positively. 

“I enjoyed working with the brand reps and it gave me a really unique opportunity to learn about marketing outside of the classroom,” Policella said. “I will definitely use those skills as I continue my education.”

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