Meet Our First-Ever YMC Student Scholarship Recipients

At Youth Marketing Connection (YMC), we’re proud of the work we do to connect some of the world’s best brands with today’s Millennial and Gen-Z consumers. But, if you ask us, we take even more pride in the unique learning and development opportunities we’re able to offer to the incredible students we work with on a daily basis.

As a way to give back to these students, we made the decision to launch the YMC Student Scholarship program at the end of 2019. The scholarship recognizes students in our network who excel in both their marketing program and, more importantly, in their efforts to positively impact their community.

A few months ago, we selected our first-ever scholarship recipients and we’re thrilled to officially introduce you to them today! Meet Jordan Dockery and Nazirah Ahmad.

Nazirah Ahmad Headshot

Introducing Nazirah Ahmad

Nazirah Ahmad is a junior at Howard University. She majors in public relations and has a minor in community development. Nazirah currently works with YMC as a student ambassador. Here’s our interview with Nazirah!

What sparked your interest in marketing and brands?

In high school, I worked with the student council and gained experience in logistics, communications, and community relations. This experience led me to study communications in college. I’m now a Public Relations major at Howard University.

Additionally, through my more recent involvement in various organizations and internships in the D.C. area, I’ve found a love for marketing, branding, and effective communication.

What have you learned by working with YMC as a student ambassador?

During the fall 2019 semester, I simultaneously took my core public relations courses at Howard and worked as a student ambassador for YMC. This timing allowed me to draw correlations between what I was learning in class and the strategies I was executing in my program.

My courses and YMC program experience taught me a lot about PR, marketing strategy, and the use of social media and events to target specific audiences.

Please describe the work you do to make your community (and the world!) a better place.

I’m personally devoted to fighting for equity in education. I’m passionate about this particular cause because I grew up as a low-income, high-achieving student. If not for my supportive family and the encouraging educators and mentors I interacted with during my formative years, I would not be in the position I’m in today. 

I believe that education is, without a doubt, the key to empowerment, so I’m devoted to making sure that it’s equitable for every student. To fulfill this mission, I’ve involved myself in a number of education-related activities. The following are a few of note:

  • I assist in classrooms through my work as the programming intern at Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science
  • I’ve worked as a teaching fellow for Breakthrough Collaborative in Houston, TX, where I taught writing skills and a newsletter elective to eighth grade students
  • I developed a social media campaign to persuade policymakers to fund community schools during my time as a communication and marketing intern for the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Learning
  • I led a team of people through educational community service activities during an alternative spring break trip to Detroit, MI

What are your life and career goals?

Following graduation, I plan to teach ELA in a middle school classroom. And, eventually, I’d love to become the director of communications for a school system.

Ultimately, I plan to continue to fight for equitable education for all students and I hope to serve as a mentor and an inspiration for black youth. 

How has the YMC Student Scholarship helped you to achieve these goals?

The YMC Student Scholarship has helped me achieve my goals by allowing me to continue my career at Howard University!

Introducing Jordan Dockery

Jordan Dockery is a junior at DePaul University. She majors in communications studies and has a minor in women’s studies. Jordan worked with YMC as a college ambassador in 2019. Here’s our interview with Jordan!

Jordan Dockery HeadshotWhat sparked your interest in marketing and brands?

Growing up, I was obsessed with every aspect of the online beauty community. I watched countless makeup tutorials, hauls, and beauty product reviews on YouTube. My initial interest in marketing and brands was sparked after watching beauty YouTubers promote specific brands, use affiliate links, and create entirely-sponsored videos. I found the concept of using non-traditional platforms to market products incredibly smart, and it inspired me to pursue a degree in communications.

What have you learned by working with YMC as a student ambassador?

As a student ambassador with YMC, I learned how to create content to best fit a brand’s overall image, while also still staying true to my creative vision. I also learned how to utilize my online presence to promote products I loved to my followers and friends.

Beyond content creation, my experience as a YMC student ambassador expanded my knowledge of how to increase brand engagement through social media and on-campus events. It taught me to think outside the box and work in a technology-driven world.

Please describe the work you do to make your community (and the world!) a better place.

Both of my parents work as consultants for various non-profit organizations and I was raised to believe that giving back to your community was the most important thing you could do with your life.

As a member of the Delta Gamma Fraternity, I aim to uphold the organization’s motto—”Do Good.” I complete my Delta Gamma service hours by volunteering for various Chicago organizations. The following are a few examples of how I give back:

  • I serve meals to the wonderful and kind people at St. Mary’s Little Sisters of the Poor
  • I also volunteer at The Chicago Lighthouse, where I host coffee clubs and holiday parties for those who are blind or visually impaired
  • I provided beauty products to members of DePaul University’s LGBTQ+ organizations like Spectrum, Gender?, and Queer People of Color (QPOC) at my ambassador program events

Volunteering to serve meals to those in need and working with those who are visually impaired has taught me that even small acts of service can create a better world. Through my volunteer experience, I have formed friendships with members from both St. Mary’s and The Chicago Lighthouse. Now, when I visit these organizations, it no longer feels like volunteer work. Instead, I feel like I’m going to see and help out my friends. 

Finally, it felt great to have the opportunity to give back to DePaul University’s LGBTQ+ organizations as part of the my ambassador program. This is a cause that’s very close to my heart because, as a queer woman, a life goal of mine is to make makeup more accessible and representative of all people.

My sorority sisters and I continue to volunteer at these organizations even after our service hours are completed, and Delta Gamma has been repeatedly recognized and awarded by DePaul University for our volunteer work. 

What are your life and career goals?

My dream career would be to work on the marketing team of a large beauty corporation.

Aside from my career, I’m most passionate about diversifying and breaking boundaries in the beauty world. As a plus-size queer woman who loves beauty, I’ve always found it challenging to feel seen or represented within the beauty world—I want to change that for others. So, another goal of mine is to serve as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, POC, and all ages and genders in the beauty community.

How will the YMC Student Scholarship help you to achieve your goals?

The YMC Student Scholarship allows me to have financial stability while completing my degree. My education is crucial if I want to make my dream career a reality. 

I’m beyond grateful for my amazing experience as a college ambassador with YMC and could not be more thankful for this scholarship. Thank you to everyone at YMC, especially Eve Sorkin, for introducing me to the agency.

My time as an ambassador has given me professional networking contacts within my desired industry, incredible resume experience, and life skills that will stay with me forever.

Congratulations!

Congratulations again to our first-ever YMC Student Scholarship recipients Nazirah Ahmad and Jordan Dockery. We’re lucky to work with impressive students like them each day and we’re so grateful for the ability to further support them as they achieve their goals!

Interested in applying for a YMC Student Scholarship? Then we have great news! The application for the spring 2020 scholarship is open until April 6. Apply today!

Introducing the YMC Student Scholarship Program

We’re excited to share some great news—we’re launching the YMC Student Scholarship program!

As the leading Millennial and Gen-Z marketing agency in the U.S., Youth Marketing Connection (YMC) authentically connects brands with today’s young consumers.

We pride ourselves on creating incredible learning and development opportunities for the students we work with—now we’re looking to take that one step further.

About the Scholarship

The YMC Student Scholarship will recognize students in our network who excel in both their marketing program and, more importantly, in their efforts to positively impact their community.

Beginning in Fall 2019, we’ll be awarding our first-ever YMC Student Scholarships. Each semester (twice a year) we’ll select two students to receive the award. Selected students will receive a $1,500 scholarship towards their tuition.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible, students must meet the following criteria:

  • They must either work with YMC currently, or must’ve worked with YMC within the past 12 months at the time of application.
  • They must be full-time students. For fall semester scholarships, first-year students and final semester graduating seniors aren’t eligible. For spring semester scholarships, first-year students and students in their final year of school are not eligible.
  • They must have active involvement in a minimum of 2 on-campus clubs/organizations.
  • They must have a leadership role in at least 1 on-campus club/organization.
  • They must have a 2.5 GPA or higher.

How to Apply

If you meet the listed requirements, we hope you’ll consider submitting an application online! The application includes the following sections:

  • About You
  • Your School & Campus Involvement
  • Your YMC Work Experience
  • Content Creation Challenge (submit a blog, video, or Instagram/Snapchat story that shows how you use your influence to not only represent brands but also to positively impact those around you)

All applications for Fall 2019 scholarships are due by Thursday, November 21. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to [email protected].

5 Ways Your Brand Can Vet Its Collegiate Influencers

People, especially influencers, present their best selves on social media. Their pictures are photoshopped, their captions are thoughtfully crafted, and their aesthetics are carefully developed. But, things aren’t always as they seem! The recent college admission scandal, known as “Operation Varsity Blues,” is proof that what collegiate influencers put out on social media does not always translate to real life.

Each year, more brands are turning to Gen-Z collegiate influencers—like Olivia Jade, who we followed in the “Operation Varsity Blues” scandal—to promote their products through social media marketing and partnerships. And, given the current industry climate, it’s extremely important to thoroughly vet your collegiate influencers.

The following are five ways to evaluate future collegiate influencers to ensure that they’re a great fit for your brand and can effectively engage with your targeted audiences on campus.

1. Seek out on-campus involvement

In order to promote a brand on campus, a collegiate influencer needs to be plugged into their campus community. So, it’s a good idea to look for students who have a variety of involvement across different campus groups.

Ask each student about the leadership roles they hold and what their responsibilities are as a member or leader in each group. Meaningful involvement in on-campus groups can be leveraged for the brand, so make sure you delve deeper into their connections.

2. Look into secondary social media channels

While your brand might only be searching for collegiate influencers to assist with campaigns on a single platform, it’s important not to forget about other social media sites. Your brand should evaluate potential student influencers’ online personas as a whole.

Many students use different channels to express different sides of themselves (ex: Twitter = politics, Instagram = lifestyle, YouTube = beauty). Evaluating each of these channels in close detail is a simple way to ensure that each of your future influencers embodies the values of your brand—on each and every platform. Not to mention, it will help your company to avoid any not-so-happy surprises down the line!

3. Ask them about their studies and career aspirations

Evaluating influencers is much more than exploring their online personas. It’s important to have thoughtful conversations with potential collegiate partners to get to know their personalities.

The best influencers are those who are passionate about what they do. We encourage brands to ask students about their studies and career aspirations. Often times, students interested in social media, marketing, and public relations turn out to be fantastic collegiate influencers.

It’s always a great idea to seek out highly-ambitious students, but be sure to ask them about their course load and schedule. Students with too much on their plates may not be able to devote the necessary amounts of time and energy to your brand’s campaign.

4. Make sure their brand is aligned with yours

Collegiate influencers use their personal brands to promote products and services. Gen-Z has grown up surrounded by influencer marketing, and they can tell when posts feel forced or inauthentic.

To ensure a successful campaign, evaluate potential college influencers’ social media content thoroughly—this includes reading through captions and looking at Instagram stories. Also, look for diversity in your influencers’ content. Great student influencers are well-rounded (i.e. they post a variety of photos that show different aspects of their lives).

Lastly, if you have very specific content requirements for your campaign, make sure your potential student influencers already meet those requirements. It’s unlikely that influencers will change content or posting style drastically for your brand.

5. Take cues from your interactions

If potential influencers don’t sound interested in an interview, then it is highly unlikely that they’ll be able to convey authentic enthusiasm for your brand when it’s time for them to begin posting. So, don’t let content quality blind you. Trust your gut in initial conversations and interactions. You can help someone craft better posts, but you can’t craft excitement.

The takeaways

As brand managers, there are two very important lessons to take away from the “Operation Varsity Blues” scandal. First, social media reality doesn’t always equate to a potential influencer’s real life. And second, it’s important to thoroughly vet each and every individual that represents your brand— including any collegiate influencers.

At YMC, we work with a network of thousands of thoroughly-vetted collegiate influencers across the country, so you can feel confident knowing that we have the right college connections for your brand. Our team carefully reviews each potential hire to ensure they are right for the brand, motivated about the job, and are involved in campus life.

If you’re tackling collegiate influencer recruitment internally, we hope these tips serve as a great starting point for properly evaluating your future collegiate representatives. If you’re still feeling nervous about where to start, YMC can help!

Want to learn more?

Check out a few other articles we’ve written on this topic: