(An earlier version of this article was published at TrackAhead.com, a career advice portal for college students searching for jobs and internships).
So Charlie Sheen is about to hire his summer intern, or as he calls it, his “Tiger Blood Intern.” Epic. Radical. But out of 74,000 applicants (!), only one lucky human will get to be the “Two and a Half Men” exile’s social media soulmate. What about the rest of us?
What’s the game plan if Charlie Sheen won’t return your calls?
How great would it be if you landed a job that was so much fun that it didn’t seem like a job? I’m not talking about choosing a career that you are passionate about, which is a goal that we all should pursue. I mean an opportunity so wild that it couldn’t possibly be true.
Take for example, the new “Vice President of Pop Culture” opening at popchips, the healthy snack manufacturer that would have you report directly to actor and Twittermaster Ashton Kutcher.
As advertised on Monster.com, the position requires “assisting Ashton in all official pop culture business, jetting off to report on-location from the hottest pop culture events, helping discover what’s popping, and weighing in on all the important issues.”
The gig pays $50,000 for a year and lets you work at home unless you have to go to a music festival, award show or fashion event to mingle with celebrities. And did I mention it comes with a year’s supply of popchips?
Essentially, they are hiring a high-profile brand ambassador to blog, make YouTube videos and work some social media magic. Gillette recently hired shaving ambassadors in an Ultimate Summer Job Contest. The winners got to demonstrate the five-blade Fusion ProGlide at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, WWE Wrestling events and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Purina is now looking for a Cat Chow Correspondent to travel in style and bond with fellow feline lovers. And Major League Baseball wants to pay one lucky fan to watch every single game of the 2011 season in person or on TV!
Companies like Purina are investing major resources into brand ambassador contests.
There seems to be no end to these brand ambassador contests, but they all have one thing in common. Marketing and public relations careers can be extremely fun if you are creative and love what you are promoting.
Perhaps the most famous brand ambassador is Jared Fogle, the spokesperson for the “Subway Sandwich Diet.” Jared’s weight loss success (245 pounds!) was first reported by a college newspaper and then it was picked up by Men’s Health magazine. Subway then dove in and made Jared the star of their TV commercials. His enormous 60-inch waist pants were donated to the soon-to-be-opening Advertising Icon Museum in Kansas City.
So you don’t need to enter a contest to work for your favorite brand – you just need to get their attention and impress the heck out of them! And like Jared, your publicity efforts can start small and gain momentum.
PERSONAL BRANDING: Pongr co-founder Jamie Thompson meets with potential brand ambassadors at the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) conference at Boston University.
We believe one of the best ways for marketing, communications and public relations majors to get an early jump on their careers is to play games. Specifically, Pongr, a career ladder picture-sharing game that my company developed to connect brands with their most loyal customers. Pongr’s expertise in mobile marketing and visual recognition is a result of our team’s years of applied research knowledge in the areas of computer vision and image recognition, but also the dozens of global brand campaigns we have done for advertising agencies looking to leverage wireless engagement.
Pongr is now looking to hire campus ambassadors at several colleges around the country. You can download our brand ambassador PDF flier for more details. But overall, we provide you with the ultimate forum and tools for you to impress your favorite company. Not only will you be learning about the latest emerging technologies in the mobile marketing field, you’ll be playing brand games and getting exposure to all forms of digital and traditional marketing.
For example, if you would love to get a marketing job with Mountain Dew, you could send them a resume and cover letter bragging about how many 2-liter bottles you drink a day. Just like everyone else in the pile.
Or you could prove to Mountain Dew why you belong on their radar. You could take pictures of their products in creative ways, build a grassroots community of like-minded fans and competitively share your passion. One brand enthusiast has gone as far as balancing a ladder on his nose, but you need not be a circus performer to impress marketing executives with your ideas and talents.
NEXT ADVERTISING STAR: Mountain Dew fans go to extremes to impress company executives, but you need not go crazy to get the attention of hiring managers. Demonstrating creativity and talent need not involve risking facial injuries!
It doesn’t matter if you want to work on mobile marketing campaigns for Prada handbags or Snickers candy bars. More often than not, global brands are hiring graduates who are already part of their culture. And becoming the brand CEO in Pongr involves a series of challenges similar to what real-life marketing managers strive to achieve every day. Why wouldn’t a hiring manager want to meet you? We think they’d be crazy not to.
Jared created his own dream job with Subway. There was no advertised position for an inspirational spokesperson. We believe that the best players in Pongr will create their own job opportunities, too, while promoting their own personal brands.
More importantly, this brand loyalty game can be an exercise for college students to explore if a marketing or public relations career is right for them. So pull out your camera phone, compete to be the virtual CEO of your favorite company, and let us know how you’re leveraging Pongr to help your career!
(If you’re interested in applying to be a Pongr Campus Ambassador at your college, download an informational flier here.)