Syracuse University Magazine


Student Ambassador Hatou Camara ’17 (right) greets a student at LinkedIn Day, a Career Services event held in September to assist students with polishing their LinkedIn profiles.

Photo by Steve Sartori

Ambassadors Enhance Professional Development

Before School of Information Studies alumnus Janak Khilnani G’15 started his volunteer position as a Student Ambassador for Syracuse University Career Services in fall 2014, he described himself as a shy person. After volunteering at Career Services for a year, he boosted his communication skills and confidence, which helped him navigate through a phone interview with IBM during job hunting and obtain a position as a global security consultant there.

Career Services established the Student Ambassador program in fall 2013 to raise awareness among students of its various programs, such as resume writing, networking, career fairs, and employer information sessions. “The ambassador program is designed to be a give-and-take,” says Susan Call G’92, associate director of employer relations at Career Services. “Students volunteer to be our eyes and ears with other students on campus, and we hope to give them professional development skills at the same time.”

Career Services further enhanced its ambassador program this fall by establishing three different teams made up of the 15 Student Ambassadors: campus connectors to strengthen the relationship between students and Career Services; research analysts to examine student participation and interest, and offer strategies for increasing engagement with Career Services; and marketing strategists to assist with the strategy and development of the Career Services communication plan.

Khilnani says his favorite part of being an ambassador was helping out with career fairs and company information sessions. During these events, he lined up information desks for the employers and directed them to their spots. “You need to give equal importance to every employer so that they will come back again in the future,” he says.

At the same time, Khilnani bridged the gap between students and company representatives. Since not all students were comfortable with directly approaching employers during these events, they usually turned to the ambassadors for information about the companies and details about job positions. “As Student Ambassadors, we ensure that both employers and students are balanced and everybody is satisfied,” Khilnani says.

Khilnani also learned how to focus on the main points of long conversations with students and employers participating in Career Services events and interact with them in appropriate ways. “By meeting people from different backgrounds and countries and with different skill sets during these events, I have developed strong communication skills,” he says.

Current Student Ambassador Ankit Sharma G’16, an MBA student in the Whitman School of Management, leads the program’s research team. Besides volunteering during Career Services events, he will analyze data they are collecting about students and employers who attend the events and send out surveys that will help Career Services evaluate its offerings. Since most student participants in the career fairs are international, Sharma plans to recommend Career Services invite more companies interested in hiring international students.

For students seeking jobs, Sharma says Career Services’ range of programs offers them invaluable tools for transitioning from college to the professional world, and he encourages students to take advantage of them.

“Everything we do is about students,” says Mike Cahill G’87, director of Career Services. “And the more we can get students involved in the work we do, the better it is for students, employers, and us.”     —Jessie Shi