Corporations have started to capitalize on the buying power of the college student by using none other than college students themselves.

Playboy, Microsoft, American Airlines and Apple have all hired students at Georgetown as their campus representatives in order to enhance their marketing power on the Hilltop.

According to a recent study by Alloy Media + Marketing, college students will account for $237 billion in consumer spending this year. Companies across the nation have increasingly indicated that they are looking to get a share of the lucrative demographic, many by creating or expanding campus representative programs.

Jason Rocco (GRD ’10), a campus representative for Playboy, said he is a part of the company’s grassroots program to extend the company’s brand to college campuses.

“The [Playboy] college program bridges that gap and lets college students know that they can feel included in the hip, sophisticated lifestyle that [Playboy] promotes,” he said.

Because it is a grassroots program, Rocco said he is given a small budget with which he develops marketing plans and schedules Playboy bar and club events, charitable and social events, fan meet-and-greets with Playmates and media interviews.

“Since it is a grassroots program, it is a very organic program in the fact that it is up to each [representative] to make the most of their efforts,” he said.

Rocco said working as a campus representative for Playboy also yields a number of perks, including a free trip to the Playboy Mardi Gras events in New Orleans as well as the 50th anniversary tour event in New York and Las Vegas. Additionally, he also received a private tour of the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles and has met celebrities including Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg and the Playboy Playmates.

Last spring, Kendra Peters (MSB ’10), an Apple campus representative, was involved in an initiative to promote Apple as an environmentally friendly company. Peters worked with Eco-Action, a student organization focused on environmental awareness, to inform students of Apple’s product recycling program as well as the company’s efforts to reduce usage of hazardous items.

Peters recently worked on a back-to-school initiative for Apple by hosting a Guitar Hero station for new students as well as collaborating with University Information Services to help answer students’ Mac-related questions.

“[Apple] give[s] you a ton of freedom. They give you guidelines, basic concepts or ideas that they want you to apply,” she said. “It is also just a lot of replying to e-mails from students that have questions. I handed out business cards to tons and tons of freshmen who were concerned about having computer problems and things like that.”

Peters said she had been interested in being an Apple campus representative because she always liked Apple products and hoped to intern there in the future.

“It seemed like a great combination of being on campus, being able to have a great job here and also being involved with one of my favorite companies,” Peters said.

According to Peters, Apple recently revamped its campus representative program and now employs 400 college students in campuses across the country. Peters also received an expenses-paid training session at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters to prepare for the job.

“The training was awesome. We got to have a three-day training session, they put us up in the Marriot and everything. It was just really fun,” she said.

Peters said that the greatest challenge for campus representatives is that students often consider them to essentially be salespeople. She said she disputes that characterization.

“A lot of [challenges] have to do with being seen as a vendor on campus because you can’t join SAC, you can’t be involved in a lot of things, as in you are not [considered] a student group [but] you are seen as a separate vendor or company,” Peters said. “I’m really just a support system who is giving information to students about our products, but it is not like I’m a salesman.”

Kat Freeman (MSB ’10), a former campus representative for Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger, was assigned to recruit students to download the live messenger and participate in the “IM for a Cause” program. Freeman posted flyers in Red Square and went door to door trying to enlist new Windows Live Messenger users.

Freeman said she took the Microsoft gig because it was one of the most flexible student jobs available.

“I actually saw an ad on Facebook. I needed a job but I didn’t want shifts, [and so I thought] it [was] a good opportunity to make money without doing a certain shift every week,” she said.

Freeman was actually first hired by RepNation, a company that hires campus representatives for a number of corporations including Microsoft, JetBlue, MTV, General Motors and Victoria’s Secret.

arian Haji-Mohamed (MSB ’08) served as a campus sales representative for American Airlines last school year. She said by connecting to college students and co-sponsoring events with other student organizations, the airline company is able to better reach a valuable new market.

“Placing representatives on university campuses is a strategically beneficial move for any firm because students are a large and profitable consumer segment,” she said.

Haji-Mohamed cited discount travel on American Airlines as a perk of the position.

And, as a marketing major, Haji-Mohamed said working as a campus representative was the perfect job for her.

“I gained experience in both networking and event-planning, which are critical tools for any marketing major,” she said.

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