Whether it’s adapting to a new life in student accommodation or long hours spent studying, university life isn’t always easy to deal with, and with an emphasis from employers now focused on ‘experience’ as well as academic accreditation, students today are more likely to be volunteering.
Which is why Jelson Homes decided to incorporate real life into their latest show apartment at Great Central Square, Loughborough earlier this year, giving chosen drama students Jack Wilkin and Rebecca Woodford, from De Montfort University in Leicester, a taste of ‘brand new’ living, so that they could extol the virtues to new home buyers via live Facebook streaming.
With a typical show home launch demanding a good chunk of the marketing budget to reach potential buyers, Jelson opted for the quirky, Gogglebox-style of promotion to draw in the crowds.
But would the students deliver? Jackie Woodward, sales manager for Jelson Homes, comments: “The two students we chose were more than professional and were a perfect fit for our new two-bedroom show apartment.”
In an X-Factor style application round, students were encouraged to send in a video outlining why they were the perfect fit for the new promotion. Woodward explains: “It was a very tight brief. We targeted drama students as we thought it would be a great opportunity to put their acting and improv skills to the test.”
It was something that certainly looked to test winning students Jack and Rebecca’s social skills, as they engaged with potential customers, while also thinking on their feet for the more practical elements such as demonstrating how the oven worked.
They also had to empathise with a variety of customers, from young professionals to family living, and demonstrate just why the show apartment would be the perfect fit.
Drama lecturer Tracy Cruikshank thought the experiment went well. She says: “We have a lot of bright and enthusiastic young adults in our faculty and we are always open to opportunities that offer our students the chance to practice and develop their skills in communication and performance.”
Certainly, this experiment has linked together the company and the university, who are keen to forge ‘industrial’ connections to help students further on in the world of work. And of course, it’s something a little different than the straightforward press release while giving a CV-worthy credit to those lucky few.
Would Jackie look to do something similar again? “Absolutely,” she says. “University students can be a valuable resource to tap into yet so often they are underutilised.”