I always liked those techies!
The campus geeky shows. The swags, tees and other branded accessories.
Fortunately for me, Alex Asomba-The Google Student Ambassador for the University of Benin was a good friend, so I was always indirectly in the loop of events, happenings and trips. In my mind: “These people dey enjoy oh”.
So I heard Google has stopped the programme. Microsoft has shifted attention from Campus partners to regional partners and fewer tech brands are still in the business of having student faces. Then it occurred to me to hear from some of those that experienced this opportunity and what it was like for them.
Tayo Fagbohun is almost like a poster boy for a student partnership programmes. In his four years in school as a student of Food Science at the University of Ilorin, he represented different brands for three years. In 100 Level he concentrated on books and scouting for opportunities. In 200level, he was the Google Student Ambassador for his school (The school’s first), and then in his 3rd year he represented Intel and Microsoft before ending the student experience as Mozilla Firefox representative. You can say that again, it was a busy time. In the four years he was a part of marketing the various brands in the student environment, championing tech advocacy events, learning skills on business development and exploring Africa by working with colleagues from schools all over Africa.
For Saviour Okusenogu, a student
partner with Microsoft at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) in 2016, the best part of the journey was the experience. “Experience differentiates the average and the exceptional; this is gotten through constant and consistent practice”. Saviour says being a student ambassador with Microsoft gave him the opportunity to work with real and smart people in a major tech company, became responsible for several Tech projects and events with the attending prospect of having to handle teaching sessions among your peers. He adds that, there is a lighter note: “You get a lot of swags, devices, branded accessories and a lot of trips and hangouts”.
Saviour believes that as a student ambassador and partner you are equipped with the work, fun and necessary experiences to prepare you for the life ahead.
Peace Itimi is a friend. So when I thought of writing this article, her name consistently rung in my head as I could clearly see some of the benefits of being a brand ambassador as a student on her. Peace was the first ever Google student ambassador for Delta State University, Abraka. Coincidentally, google shut down the model after her set in 2015, so we can say she is the first and last. She explains that “The student Ambassadorship Model is a great one (if done right) because it gives students an opportunity to explore leadership and responsibility with something outside their academic pursuit. It’s a win –win situation as it gives the brand a face and name presence on campuses”.
“There was no monetary benefit but it was an opportunity for students to be ‘cool’, represent a multinational brand, teach other stuff to increase their employability potential, learn new skills and meet young people from all over Africa”, she adds. Peace stresses, that the experiences as a GSA, equips students with experiences and impact based growth that money cannot buy. As a GSA, she says she had the opportunity to explore skills that she wasn’t even aware of. “Public speaking, event planning and coordination, event publicity, digital marketing were skill sets I acquired, harnessed as well as implemented for the first time”, she said.
“My experience as a Google ambassador literally opened me up to the Digital space and yes, it was the catalyst to my now budding Digital Marketing and Public speaking Career”
– Peace Itimi
Taslim Okunola was a 2 time Google Student Ambassador in the Federal University Technology, Akure (FUTA). Taslim explains that “The GSA programme allows students to act as liaisons between the University and Google. Our Job is to connect the two in a bid to help our community (Students especially) grow”. He believes that the model helps to organise free digital marketing and computer science events with the emphasis on growing talents. As an ambassador, Taslim explained that the programme provided an opportunity to lead a team of tech enthusiasts and for him, Leadership is best learned when one is in charge of a team of volunteers.
Evi Uwede is the campus Director for Hultz prize and an Intel Ambassador in the Federal University of Technology Akure. She is a 400 level student of Computer Science in FUTA. Evi says being a student ambassador was incredible as well as It was challenging. “It was fun as well as work’’, she adds.
“The student Ambassador model should be sustained because it serves as a reminder to the student that being in the University is more than attending lectures and writing exams. It teaches a lot of things that cannot be learnt in school and helps in personal development” – Evi.
Evi explains that the programme gives the participant an opportunity to improve leadership, communication, resource management, Project management and team work skills. While the work experience gives you the prospect of increasing the chances of getting employed with the company or any other brand in a related field, you help the company meet their goal in the various institutions. Maybe that’s the reason why a lot of the ambassadors have gone on to work with the parent company they represent. Taslim (ByteMars) has had a stint and still does training events for Google, which is the same for Alex Asomba (Pallet), Peace Itimi ( RenedDigital), Mayowa Oshidero ( TinklingD ), Fagbohun went on to become Mozilla country representative for Nigeria and a whole lot of other examples. Others have gone on to work with several other big brands.
If this model is this interesting and awesome…why are brands beginning to redirect attention? I hear Google has stopped the GSA programme, Microsoft that does not have Student Partners in institutions again and a few others. If there are issues how do we tweak this beneficial model to be mutually beneficial to brands and Nigerian students?