By Emma Seton

For everyone at the Tutor Trust, the way that we operate at work has significantly changed since the outbreak of COVID-19, and, a year later, we are continuing to work remotely.

As a paid Brand Ambassador, my role within Tutor Trust is to enhance awareness of the Tutor Trust brand amongst students and to help to increase the number of applications from prospective tutors. And whilst my role hasn’t changed over the last year, how I carry it out, and the way that myself and the rest of the Brand Ambassador team operate, has changed significantly.

How was my role different pre-COVID?

Before the pandemic, Brand Ambassadors would often attend university careers’ fairs to raise awareness of Tutor Trust and to encourage students to sign up for fantastic opportunities within the charity. A large part of this role was speaking with people 1-1 and giving them specific information about what the charity does and about what it’s like to work here. In addition to this, I would regularly go into the Tutor Trust office to call potential applicants and offer them any advice to help with the completion of their Tutor Trust application. I also attended in-person application sessions at the University of Manchester Students’ Union where I offered 1-1 support for potential tutors who needed guidance on their application. Before the pandemic, I was involved in a number of in-person events that promoted the Tutor Trust, and I found that speaking to people face-to-face was one of the most effective ways to enhance their engagement with us.

What does my role look like during COVID-19?

After the first lockdown, there was a huge shift towards the importance of digital marketing strategies. This meant that there was a focus on social media and using digital channels to increase brand awareness of Tutor Trust, and a greater requirement for the Brand Ambassadors to populate the Trust’s social media channels. For example, during World Book Day and International Women’s Day (IWD) this year, all the Brand Ambassadors recorded short clips of themselves discussing their favourite childhood book and discussing the ‘Choose to Challenge’ theme for IWD.

The Brand Ambassadors also support the monthly virtual information sessions for potential tutors, where we spend time talking about our roles. Post-COVID-19, many of the Tutor Trust sessions, such as training, careers’ fairs and information sessions take place online, and Brand Ambassadors attend these.

How have I adapted to the new tasks and what new skills have I gained?

Although before the pandemic there was still a focus on social media marketing strategies and the promotion of social media engagement within the charity, the role of social media has increased significantly. Brand Ambassadors are now often given tasks such as creating social media graphics, reviewing the social media pages, and sharing social media posts. As a consequence of this enhanced focus on social media, I quickly became proficient at using social media graphic design platforms such as Canva, and a number of my graphic designs have been used by the charity.

I’ve also been working more autonomously, calling up applicants from home, rather than from the office. As a result of being home-based, I found that sometimes, answering questions from potential tutors took me a little longer than usual, as I’d have to email a colleague rather than simply ask them in the office. In order to speed this process, I adapted to remote working by deepening my knowledge of the Tutor Trust, enabling me to provide information to applicants on a range of queries, not just those specific to the application process.

As I’m sure most people like myself have found, one of the most valuable skills for working during COVID--19 is adaptability. Along with the rest of the team, I quickly adapted to delivering sessions online rather than in person. Tutor training sessions and careers fairs are now delivered in an online format, which has worked successfully so far. One of the pivotal skills of a Brand Ambassador is to ensure that their enthusiasm for Tutor Trust is evident both in an in-person context and through online media. As we adapted to online delivery, this was something that I wanted to ensure was at the forefront of my work as a Brand Ambassador.

How have team meetings changed?

Like many teams, our meetings now take place over Zoom, rather than through an in-person meeting at the office. However, a positive aspect of our remote catch-ups is that we can meet with Brand Ambassadors across all three cities, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. Under normal circumstances catch-ups would most likely take place locally. Now though, since lockdown, the whole team is regularly able to catch-up. Moreover, our manager Katie has set up a WhatsApp chat to ensure that our team communication is as effective as possible. We use the chat to discuss tasks, and there are also separate groups for teams working on specific projects, such as the Male Recruitment team that I am part of. Despite the changes to the way that we operate, the Brand Ambassador team have been making time to stay connected, and earlier this month we took part in a virtual escape room challenge.

Why did I want to become a Brand Ambassador?

The role of Brand Ambassador is suited to anyone who wants to gain additional experience in the sectors of marketing, promotions, or advertising. For me, I wanted to gain additional experience in marketing, as this is where I want to take my career. As a paid Brand Ambassador, you choose tasks each week dependent on how much time they take, and therefore how much you will be paid, and what type of task they are so I choose tasks that would enhance my marketing skills. As I was applying for a Marketing MSc at the University of Manchester, I was able to include my experience as a Brand Ambassador and discuss the skills that I had learnt in this role, such as an awareness of social media marketing strategies. Not only did my role as a Brand Ambassador increase my sector specific knowledge, but I also gained a plethora of transferable skills within the role. For example, when speaking at careers fairs I was able to improve my public speaking and communication skills.

Although working under COVID-19 restrictions presents some challenges, myself and the rest of the team have done our utmost to ensure that we’re not only adapting to the new normal but staying connected with one another. Despite working remotely, the Brand Ambassador team continues to work as a cohesive unit to meet our recruitment deadlines and targets.

*If you're interested in becoming a Brand Ambassador head to Thinqi to find out how to apply! The deadline is Friday 26th March*