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Campus & Community

What is the Drexel Employee Ambassador Program? A Q&A

September 22, 2014

Employee Ambassadors Program

Millicent Carvalho-Grevious, Ph.D., oversees Drexel’s Employee Ambassador Program, (EAP), which welcomes new Drexel employees.  She is also a new Drexel employee.

Carvalho-Grevious, a licensed social worker, came to Drexel in April to serve as the Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator in the Office of Equality and Diversity. As a new employee, she understands the value of programs such as EAP, which recruits employees to serve as ambassadors and pairs them with new faculty and professional staff who’ve just arrived on campus. The ambassador and the new employee then connect with each other over a cup of coffee or dessert, or perhaps just over the phone or via email.

The feedback from new employees has been very positive. The program, about two years old, is seeking more employees at all three of Drexel’s Philadelphia campuses to volunteer as ambassadors. The goal is to have ambassadors for all new workers who’d like to connect with someone.

DrexelNow talked with Carvalho-Grevious to find out what the program is about.

What does the Employee Ambassadors program provide for new employees?

We’re hoping that it helps people develop a group of work friends and associates – that people go to coffee with their Ambassador and then say, “Hey, that was great. Maybe next time we’ll go to lunch.” We really want people to find a network. Sometimes you find your network through a person who connects you to another person. That usually takes place outside of the traditional introductions that take place when you start a new position.

We can’t manufacture that. But we hope it develops out of the connections that people make. We let them figure out what works best for them.

I had an associate professor who came on board, and was absolutely delighted to have someone reach out to her and basically say, “Would you like to meet with me?” She said it was great to sit down with someone who wasn’t going to ask for anything other than an introduction and say, “Gee, we’re so happy to have you on board.”

You’re new at Drexel yourself. Why do you think new professional staff members might appreciate a nice welcome?

Your first week, everybody comes to meet you. There are so many names, so many people. People are very polite and welcoming. It’s very professional. You’re kind of on your game, and it’s great. And then they leave. I think people are looking to forge connections that are ongoing — that are guaranteed. EAP provides that.

As a faculty member at other institutions, I felt immediately connected by working with students. That keeps you vibrant and on your toes. But coming and working on the staff side, I have to say that even though I felt welcomed, it was a little lonely.

So getting a call asking, ‘Hey, do you want to get coffee or a cup of tea, or do you want to meet up after work for a few minutes?” is just a pleasant experience. There’s nothing like having that group of people you can meet with at lunch, or meet up with after work. It just makes the experience much more enjoyable.

In what areas do you especially need ambassadors?

We need staff at all levels to join. We have quite a few mid-level ambassadors, but when you get to the director or vice president level, we don’t have as many. Those administrators may be introduced to a lot of people when they begin on the job, but there’s nothing like someone saying, “Hey, you want to get a cup of coffee?” It’s not a program where only managers can talk to managers, but we want to match people who have a balanced relationship.

We also need people from the College of Medicine, from all levels. We like to ask our volunteers to give about a half-hour a month to welcome somebody, and it helps if they’re on the same campus as the person they’re welcoming. So we want ambassadors from every campus.

What is required of your Employee Ambassadors?

We ask them to commit to at least one new connection a month. That only requires about 30 minutes — just a quick meeting, phone call or email, depending on what works best. Some can take them on a little more often than once a month, maybe every few weeks. But we want to be respectful of their time and not overwhelm them, because we want them to do it again and again. And we hope that as new employees are welcomed by the program, after they’ve been here for about a year, they’ll want to give back and they’ll volunteer themselves.

To volunteer or learn more about the Employee Ambassador Program, contact Millicent Carvalho-Grevious at mcgrevious@drexel.edu or 215.571.3839.

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