Recruitment as a diplomatic mission

A new programme at TU Delft, organised jointly by Marketing and Communications (M&C) and the Delft International Student Society (DISS), is sending university ambassadors out into the world to help recruit top talent.

Photo: Sam Rentmeester
Photo: Sam Rentmeester

Though they held their kick-off event on February 17 2014, the Ambassadors Programme is underway with students having hosted events in Mexico, Greece, India and Pakistan. The kick-off event was meant to showcase what the programme had accomplished so far and solicit ideas for how to improve it in the future.

The programme uses current TU Delft students, recruited from the various international student societies at the university, who act as ambassadors to their home countries. When students return home, they are encouraged to organise events through their alma maters. These events are geared at prospective and admitted students, though alumni are often invited as well. Students also answer questions from their compatriots via email and Facebook year round.

The programme arose out of a multifaceted need. The university is positioning itself to be a top international university and wants to recruit top talent from all over the world. Despite its academic and research prowess, the university lacks the name recognition of universities in the United States or England. Further, once students are admitted, they may not know much about life in the Netherlands.

“We inform prospective student as best we can,” says Janneke Hermans, marketer (M&C) and one of the organisers of the program. “But,” continues Ran Qedar, former chairperson of DISS and ambassador to Israel, “students are better able to anticipate the needs of other students.” Students have questions ranging from what clothes to bring to what cost of living is. George Xexakis, ambassador to Greece, admits that he is frequently asked how often it rains in Delft.

So far, the programme has had mixed results. Usama Malik, ambassador to Pakistan, hosted the first event but had issues getting proper permission to host it at his high school, so the group ended up in the home of a friend. A recent event in India, however, was more successful. Ambassador Rashmi Narayanan organised a presentation at her alma mater, the M. S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology, with a turnout of around seventy people and included presentations by herself, another TU Delft student and a TU Delft alumnus who is a now a professor at the university.

Currently there are seven ambassadors representing many of TU Delft’s biggest national constituencies: Pakistan, India, China, Greece, Romania, Mexico and Israel. M&C is actively looking for more volunteers from unrepresented countries.

The ambassadorship is a voluntary position but students do receive some professional development as part of their training, including social media training and assistance with public speaking. Narayanan described the experience as a “truly different and creative way to reach students” during her presentation at the kick-off event.

Alongside this programme, M&C is also working to develop an alumni programme. The university has 40,000 alumni listed on LinkedIn, but, according to Hermans, isn’t doing enough to leverage that group. A recent TU Delft graduate, Diego Alatorre, has already organised one alumni event in Mexico City.