How a new dining initiative at Nicholls State University is helping train the next generation of marketing professionals

Street Teams allows students to connect with their peers and gain valuable marketing experience.
The Street Team at Nicholls State University.
The Street Team at Nicholls State University. | Photo courtesy of Nicholls State University Dining.

Nicholls State University’s dining team has found a creative way to connect with its students. This semester at the university, Sodexo launched a new initiative—Street Teams. The team, which is composed of three student ambassadors and one intern, work in the marketing department for the dining program. The team has helped with marketing for events as well as promoting various dining programs. In addition, they have also played a role in the dining program’s social media presence.

"I started my career with Sodexo as a marketing intern at Nicholls State University many years ago, so I was ecstatic to introduce this program there," said Bianca Gilfour, district marketing specialist at Sodexo. "I've always been proud of the education, support, and resources that Sodexo provides to students, and to be on the other side of that now really makes things come full circle. Although this team is just getting started, I am thoroughly impressed by what they have accomplished in just a few weeks.”

Gilfour noted that the team has been especially helpful in marketing initiatives, as they come from the student body themselves. They are able to provide valuable insights into what their peers like, said Gilfour.

“They can connect better with them because they are, you know, the same age, they know what they want. They understand fully what their friends like because they're going through the same thing,” she said.

While the group helps with promoting dining programs, another goal behind the initiative is to provide students with a direct link to the dining team.

The team wears identifying shirts and Gilfour said students know they can come to them with questions.

While all members of the team work on different aspects of marketing, the intern is being trained to a higher level and is learning different tasks that won’t be designated to the ambassadors, such as website editing. 

Gilfour has also worked to identify different Street Team members strengths—one ambassador, for instance, is very skilled when it comes to social media, while another works on graphics. In addition, it’s become a very collaborative process.

“We also channel off of their feedback to tell them like hey, 'What do you want to learn more? What really interests you about the position or what do you see the intern doing that you want to learn more about,' and they're very vocal about that,” said Gilfour.

Some of the Street Team members have had the chance to promote their own small businesses through the program. The dining team recently held an outdoor farmers market. One student sells custom made dog treats while another sells crocheted items. Both students were able to sell their products at the farmer’s market.

“One of them she specifically said she really enjoys this position because it's giving her a chance to connect with students, but it's also given her a full idea of marketing and it helps her role but for her own the dog treat business as well,” said Gilfour.

Feedback from students involved in the program has been very positive, said Gilfour. She also noted that some of the students who started off timid or shy have started to come out of their shells.

"I’m having fun. I’ve gained so much hands-on experience already. This journey is preparing me for a professional career in marketing. I can’t wait to see what they have in store next,” said Malory Solet, dining ambassador at Nicholls State University.

The ultimate goal of the program is to help the students develop the skills they need to go out into the workforce, noted Gilfour.

“Because like I mentioned before, I started out as an intern here and I do believe all the resources and knowledge that I've gotten from Sodexo has helped tremendously in getting me where I am today. And I just want the same for them,” she said.



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