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Getting the Appreciation
You Deserve

How to become well-known and respected on your campus
By Tye Thomas, Johnson & Wales University

Let’s admit it. Even though you’re volunteering your time as a campus leader because you want things to be better at your school, deep down inside is a desire to be noticed and appreciated for the work you do. I’ll be honest—I didn’t get involved on my campus completely for others. I did it for myself, too. In my term as student body president at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, I set out to achieve many personal and professional goals, but I also set out to be noticed and leave my mark.

As a high-profile student leader, you should take full advantage of the offices you have worked so hard to be elected or appointed to. These leadership roles offer not only a chance to make a real difference, but to also make yourself one of the most well-known and respected students on your campus. As you hard at work to provide new services to students or make your group more user-friendly, why not take the opportunity to let everyone know of your accomplishments? Here are some practical suggestions that will help you do that and let your constituents know that you’re hard at work for them.

Take the editor of the campus newspaper or yearbook out to lunch. Do this at the beginning of the year and share your plans and goals for the coming year. Ask about their concerns and interests, so you can see how your goals can compliment each other. Let the media know that you are more than willing to support them in any way you can. Offer to write a column about the progress of your organization, or ask the yearbook editor if you could design a page for you group.

Have a name tag made. Our university provides these for us. If yours doesn’t, ask for one or get one made for a few dollars at a local trophy or printing shop. Make sure it clearly shows your name, title, and your group’s logo, if possible. Wear it when attending functions, meeting students, and chairing or sitting in on meetings, etc.

Print up business cards. What a great way to leave your contacts with your name and phone number. Business cards usually start at about $20 for 1000. They can be plain and simple and still be effective. Include your name, title, organization, mailing address, phone and fax numbers, and e-mail address. Give one to everyone you meet as you represent your organization.

Introduce yourself to the school’s Director of Public Relations. Although they go by different titles, including offices of Public Information, Community Relations, or Media Relations, directors and staff in these key offices are great resources. Quite often, they need to quickly find a student for media to interview about topics or issues of interest to the community. If you introduce yourself and get acquainted ahead-of-time, they will know that you are a good representative of the student body who is involved in campus life, hence a good source when they need an ‘ideal student’ for public appearances, speeches, fundraising or promotional literature or videos, or for media interviews.

Offer to help the admissions office with student recruiting. Introduce yourself to the director of admissions and the office staff and share that you are interested in helping to recruit next year’s freshman class. Tell them you’re willing to speak at events, give campus tours, or do whatever else they may need. I have given several speeches to prospective students, sharing my personal experiences with them. The exciting part is helping prospective students see first-hand how much fun you are having as they consider where to attend college.

Write a letter to the local newspaper. If applicable, tell the editor staff that you are an elected student representative and that you would appreciate being interviewed or quoted in any articles throughout the year that may affect or involve the students you represent.

Meet with the president. Schedule a brief appointment during the summer or early in the semester to share your plans and goals for the year with him or her. Ask for feedback. Inquire about the short-term goals of the school and offer your assistance.

Visit the alumni office. Staffers here are always planning events for recent graduates and college donors. Offer your help for upcoming activities. If the office publishes a magazine, offer to write a small article about current events or issues on campus.

Throw lots of parties! Especially if your organization has a budget that you have access to. Nice gatherings are easy and fun to plan, and are the best way to reward yourself, those with whom you work, or to present awards to people who have gone ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty.

     These are suggestions that you may or may not feel comfortable carrying out, but in any case, consider them and adjust them to your situation and personality. With a little hard work and determination, you will achieve the goals you set out to accomplish for your term in office. By being creative and outgoing, not only will you achieve your dreams, but you’ll be able to let everyone know that you did fulfill your promises.

—Tye Thomas served as 1997-98 student body president at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. He is a junior in marketing and the owner of a small business. He can be reached at rthomas@exodus.jwu.edu.

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