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TikTok, Bumble, others are hiring college students as brand ambassadors

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Companies like TikTok and Bumble are hiring college students to work as brand ambassadors on campus. These jobs pay better than typical college jobs like food service and retail — and provide valuable career experience.

Students say they’ve learned about marketing, content creation and management while working as brand ambassadors — and grown their network by connecting with other campus representatives across the country. And, in a hyper-competitive internship and job market, brand ambassador experience is one way to stand out, the students said.

 “My life changed because of the TikTok ambassadorship program,” said Bita Motiie, a senior at the University of North Texas studying marketing. 

Bita Motiie, a senior at the University of North Texas, says being a brand ambassador for TikTok opened up a lot of job opportunities for her.

Photo: Michael Chavira

Motiie has been working as a campus representative for the social media platform since the fall of 2019 and says it helped her identify her interest in branding and building online communities — and jumpstart her career.

“I have had so many new job opportunities,” Motiie said. “Even the place that I currently work at, they specifically hired me because I had experience as a TikTok brand ambassador.”

Campus ambassador programs benefit brands, too. A study by Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and research firm Keller Fay Group, found that 82% of consumers were likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer (a person with more reach than the average person — though not a celebrity — in a very specific category or demographic like college students).

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“These programs are a win-win proposition because they give valuable exposure to brands while students gain marketing experience as they move closer to graduating,” said Julie Jatlow, a partner at Fuse, an agency that runs college ambassador programs for TikTok, Amazon and other brands.

Depending on the company, campus ambassador duties typically include posting content on social media, handing out merchandise or samples, hosting branded events and reaching out to student organizations.

“Finding creative and passionate students who have qualities that specifically align with the brand’s DNA is paramount,” Jatlow said. “We’re always looking for proactive students with drive and enthusiasm.”

Student representatives are typically compensated by an hourly rate or a monthly stipend, and able to work on their own schedule. Wages for campus ambassadors range from roughly $15-25 per hour, according to job postings on employment website Indeed. That’s well above the hourly rate for jobs common among college students such as food and beverage service, which pays around $11 an hour, and retail sales, which pays around $13 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It’s a lot more flexible than a standard work-study job,” said Cedoni Francis, a 2020 graduate of Vanderbilt University who worked for brands including TikTok, dating app Bumble and beer company Anheuser-Busch when she was in school.

Cedoni Francis, a 2020 graduate of Vanderbilt University, worked as a student brand ambassador for TikTok, Bumble and Anheuser-Busch. She now works in marketing at Google.

Photo: Warner Tidwell

Francis, who is now an associate product marketing manager at Google, said her experience in campus ambassador programs helped her develop skills like time management and stakeholder engagement.

Her experience with TikTok, in particular, gave her a crash course on viral marketing, expertise that she uses in her current job.

“It’s a good primer,” Francis said. “There are certain things that other people need to be taught how to do that I don’t need to be taught how to do.”

Peter Corrigan, associate director of employer and alumni connections for University of Arizona’s Student Engagement and Career Development, said working as a campus brand ambassador helps students build key skills.

“Students strengthen communications skills as they talk to a lot of people trying to create brand awareness on campus,” Corrigan said. “It stretches students out of their comfort zone and gives them sales experience with companies they may want to work for.”

Candice Nguyen, a third-year public administration student at Drexel University, represents brands like Bumble, Victoria’s Secret Pink and Red Bull on her campus.

Candice Nguyen, a student at Drexel University, represents brands like Bumble, Victoria’s Secret Pink and Red Bull on her campus.

Source: Candice Nguyen

Like Francis, Nguyen said her work as a campus ambassador translated into professional experience. She recently completed a certification in project management and is interning full-time in a project management role.

“I realized a lot of the work I’ve been doing was project management, like running events and being able to supervise and coordinate with teams,” Nguyen said of her brand ambassador experience.

Michigan State University senior Montserrat Lewin Mejia got her start in campus ambassador programs as a representative for retail brand Rent the Runway during the second semester of her junior year before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the program. She’s now a brand ambassador for Bumble and fashion start-up Qatch.

Montserrat Lewin Mejia, an engineering student at Michigan State University, has worked as a brand ambassador for Rent the Runway, Bumble and fashion start-up Qatch. Her new career goal is to become a full-time influencer.

Photo: Mindy Melinda Carmack

 As an engineering student, Mejia said campus brand ambassador programs introduced her to the world of influencer marketing and helped her realize new career goals.

“Since I’ve started doing all this, I have a really big goal of potentially becoming a full-time influencer,” Mejia said.

TikTok campus representative Tatum Riley, a junior at Duke University, sees how college ambassador programs help build brand awareness. Riley and her fellow brand representatives on campus tried to “personalize the promotion” by catering events and outreach to Duke students specifically.

Tatum Riley, a junior at Duke University, represents TikTok on her campus.

Photo: Griffin Riley

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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Xiaomi shares rally after US agrees to remove it from blacklist

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Xiaomi’s headquarters in the Xuhui District of Shanghai.

Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — The U.S. has agreed to remove Xiaomi from a blacklist that would have barred Americans from investing in the Chinese smartphone maker.

Shares of Chinese tech giant Xiaomi rallied as much as 6.5% after the news, before paring some gains.

In January, the administration under former President Donald Trump designated Xiaomi as one of several “Communist Chinese military companies” or CCMC.

This meant the world’s third-largest smartphone maker was subject to a November executive order restricting American investors from buying shares or related securities of any companies given this designation by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

Xiaomi brought a legal challenge against the U.S. Department of Defense.

In March, a U.S. court granted Xiaomi a preliminary injunction against the Trump-era order, saying the company would “suffer irreparable harm in the form of serious reputational and unrecoverable economic injuries.”

And on Tuesday, the DOD agreed that a “final order vacating” Xiaomi’s designation as a CCMC “would be appropriate,” according to a court filing.

Xiaomi and the DOD will “negotiate over the specific terms of the order” and provide the court with a “joint proposed order” on or before May 20.

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Tesla’s China sales tumble 27% in April from March

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A gigafactory of electric carmaker Tesla is seen in Shanghai, China October 18, 2019.

Aly Song | Reuters

BEIJING — One gauge of Tesla’s success in China pointed to a sharp drop in sales in April.

The U.S.-based electric car company sold 25,845 made-in-China vehicles last month, down 27% from 35,478 in March, according to figures released Tuesday by the China Passenger Car Association.

The report noted that in April, Tesla exported 14,174 cars from its Shanghai factory. The association did not disclose Tesla’s export figures for March.

Tesla’s sales decline came amid an overall 12% month-on-month drop in April for new energy passenger cars in China, according to the association. The category includes pure-electric and hybrid cars.

Guangdong-based BYD, which is backed by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett, came close behind Tesla in April. The passenger car association said BYD sold 25,450 new energy vehicles in April, up 6.5% from 23,906 in March.

The figures are close to those disclosed by BYD itself, which said earlier this month it sold 25,034 new energy passenger cars in April.

Some in China’s electric car industry have cast doubt on the accuracy of the association’s figures.

China becomes more important for Tesla

Tesla does not disclose monthly deliveries by country. The company delivered 184,800 cars worldwide during the first quarter.

Publicly disclosed figures indicate China is becoming a more and more important market for Tesla. The company made $3 billion in sales in the country during the first quarter, accounting for 29% of global sales for the period. That’s up from up from 21% for all of 2020.

Meanwhile, negative press has increased for Tesla in China. In the last few months, local reports of Tesla brake failures, crashes and explosions have mounted and drawn scrutiny from regulators. Separately on Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing sources, that Tesla has halted plans to buy land and expand its Shanghai factory.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, or the association’s figures. Shares fell about 1.9% overnight and are down roughly 12% for the year so far.

Looking ahead, the passenger car association pointed out the capital city of Beijing is releasing 60,000 new license plates for new energy vehicles this month, which should help sales for recent market launches such as Tesla’s Model Y and Aion Y, produced by a new energy brand spun-off from Chinese state-owned automaker GAC.

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WHO says it accounts for 50% of reported cases last week

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A Covid-19 coronavirus patient rests inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid care centre in New Delhi on May 10, 2021.

Arun Sankar | AFP | Getty Images

India’s daily Covid-19 death toll hit another record high on Wednesday, as the World Health Organization said the country accounted for half the total reported cases in the world last week.

Health ministry data showed that at least 4,205 people died over a 24-hour period — the largest single-day increase in fatalities reported by the South Asian country since the pandemic began. However, reports have suggested that the death toll in India is being undercounted.

Total reported cases in India topped 23 million and more than 254,000 people have died.

The World Health Organization said that India accounted for half of all cases reported globally last week as well as 30% of global deaths.

India has reported more than 300,000 daily cases for 21 consecutive days. On Tuesday, however, the health ministry said its data showed a net decline in the total active cases over a 24-hour period for the first time in 61 days.

The second wave began around February and accelerated through March and April after large crowds were allowed to gather, mostly without masks, for religious festivals and election rallies in various parts of the country.

India’s health-care system is under tremendous pressure due to the spike in cases despite an inflow of international aid, including oxygen concentrators, cylinders, and generation plants as well as anti-viral drug Remdesivir.

To alleviate some pressure on health-care workers, India is recruiting 400 ex-medical officers from the armed forces, the defense ministry announced on Sunday.

WHO’s update on India, South Asia

In its latest weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic, the U.N. health agency said it was observing “worrying trends” in India’s neighboring countries, where cases are also rising.

For example, in Nepal, almost 50% of all individuals tested for Covid-19 are reportedly infected as the landlocked country struggles with a second wave. It is said to have run out of vaccines as India suspended its exports in light of the situation at home.

WHO recently classified the Covid variant B.1.617 that was first detected in India as a variant of concern, indicating that it’s become a global threat. The variant has three sub-lineages “which differ by few but potentially relevant mutations in the spike protein as well as prevalence of detection globally,” WHO said in the report.

India’s dramatic surge in cases has raised questions on the role played by Covid variants like the B.1.617 as well as the B.1.1.7 that was first detected in the United Kingdom.

The international health body said it conducted a recent risk assessment of the situation in India and found that the resurgence and acceleration of Covid-19 transmission in the country had several likely contributing factors: That includes the presence of Covid variants that have potentially increased transmissibility as well as mass gatherings and reduced adherence to public health and social measures.

“The exact contributions of these each of these factors on increased transmission in India are not well understood,” WHO said.

Elsewhere, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend a G-7 Summit in person in the U.K. next month due to the Covid-19 situation at home, the Indian foreign ministry said. Modi was invited by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to attend the event as a special invitee, according to the ministry.

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