Jul 21, 2011 • By

Going corporate on campus

Think 18 is too young to start a corporate career?

We don’t.

Our Sales Campus Ambassador Program reaches out to college students as early as their freshman year.

The annual program is an innovative attempt to attract the next generation of leaders by recruiting and training the best and the brightest among their ranks. In its fifth year, the program is the brainchild of Joe Roffers, national recruiting manager for General Mills’ sales division.

Kya Laulainen, a junior studying Management Information Systems at the Univerity of Texas, Austin, just finished her one-year appointment as a campus ambassador. Kya was introduced to the program at her campus career fair in the fall of 2009.

“At first, I was drawn to the General Mills booth because I grew up near to the world headquarters in Minnesota and knew the company’s reputation,” she says. “I also grew up eating General Mills cereals and my school was involved in the Box Tops for Education program. As I spoke with the recruiters, I remember growing increasingly impressed that General Mills was looking for freshmen and sophomores. Most companies only spend their time and energy on upperclassmen.“

After a series of interviews, Kya, along with six other students from five schools including the University of Arizona, University of Indiana, University of Notre Dame and University of Southern California, made the cut to become a 2010 campus ambassador.

She signed on in April of 2010, accepting the duties of ambassador which includes an orientation trip to our world headquarters, serving as a campus contact for students interested in General Mills, making presentations on the company to student groups and business classes and coordinating a Box Tops for Education collection contest for a local school. Her duties, for which she received an hourly stipend, kept her busy throughout the school year with most activities taking place in the fall and winter.

Having completed the program with flying colors, Kya was also chosen to be an intern at General Mills beginning last month. She’s excited to begin her career at General Mills, but says the best part of her ambassador gig was seeing students line up to ask her about the program at UT’s spring 2011 career fair.

“We had a record number of students interested in the ambassador position,” says Kya. “I’d look up from talking with one student to see a line of students waiting to talk with me about my experience. It really shows what a student ambassador can accomplish on campus for a company.”

The pioneering program has paid dividends for students, as well as for us.

But some things never change.

Kya recalls that after nearly every presentation over the course of the year – before clubs, classes and student groups – she’d always get asked the same question:

“So what’s your favorite General Mills product?” She laughs, “Typical college students. The first question was always about food.”