WHEN YOU buy something on the internet, you can easily find blog postings that include information for a variety of products. Even though these postings vary from each other, they are similar in that they are written by ‘Student Marketers,’ ‘Student Reporters’ or ‘Student Ambassadors.’
With the rapid development of SNS, such as Facebook and personal blogs, people, especially university students, have started to use these services to look into various different products. Some companies, especially ones that produce products popular among students in their 20s, have taken up this trend, and are now devoted to making programs that would help them appeal more to university students. These activities are labelled ‘Student Marketer,’ ‘Student Reporter,’ or ‘Student Ambassador’ programs, through which university students can experience certain careers that are popular among students while being supported by the companies. ‘Student Marketers,’ for instance, make their own marketing plans for a company’s products. Similarly, ‘Student Reporters’ write articles about the company and ‘Student Ambassadors’ participate in various advertising programs held by each company and help advertise the products. By participating in these programs, students can build their spec*, which will help them in their job search, enhance their personal network or even earn some pocket money. Of course, now that university students face difficulties in the job market due to high unemployment rates, these opportunities seem all the more attractive. Yet, the students are not the only ones that benefit from such programs, but also the companies that make these programs available, as they can efficiently advertise their products through these programs. Therefore, as of now, when we search for off-campus activities for university students on the internet, we can easily find a number of companies that offer ‘Student Marketer,’ ‘Student Reporter,’ or ‘Student Ambassador’ programs.
It is doubtful, however, whether these programs are able fully to carry out their original purpose, which is to give university students first hand experiences and help develop them. When the companies recruit students for such activities, they often lure the applicants by claiming to offer firsthand experience in certain careers such as a reporting or marketing. However, they often end up using the selected college students simply for the sake of product advertisement. When carefully reading blog postings written by these students, some of them are full of praise about the products of the companies even though they were supposed to write an objective article. Such articles confuse consumers looking for useful information on the internet. The companies also emphasize that they want passionate university students who can actively join their programs. In reality, however, it seems that they only want active SNS users who can advertise their products. Most of the companies only choose students who have popular blogs with many visitors even though they say that they are looking for passionate students on the surface. This can result in the exclusion of several capable students. After popular bloggers are selected through this resume screening process, they start to make postings about the companies which are nothing more than mere advertisements of their products. In other words, the companies are just using these university students as a tool for advertising.
Students ought to develop their own perspective when choosing programs for their off-campus activities by thoroughly examining each of the programs before they apply. They should consider whether the program could truly offer them a good chance to develop themselves. It would be much better to go to the library and read a book rather than spend your time joining such programs.
* spec: certificates that prove one’s competence in the job market