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    Finding new ways to recruit amid the COVID-19 pandemic

    Finding new ways to recruit amid the COVID-19 pandemic

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera | Michigan Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Janea Cook, is a recruiter with the 127th Wing,...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera 

    Michigan National Guard

    DETROIT, Mich. – When it comes to the coronavirus, change and social distancing is the name of the game.
    The Michigan National Guard recruiting teams are learning to adjust during the pandemic, implementing the crucial practice of social distancing while still fulfilling their mission. They recently started holding webinars with interested students from Detroit Public Schools.
    “I think it’s a good alternative considering the circumstances,” said Tech. Sgt. Janea Cook. “I think it’s nice to still have that interaction with the public.”
    Cook, a recruiter with the Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Wing out of Selfridge Air National Guard Base, said she was happy to be doing the hour-long webinar because it gave her the opportunity to tell students about benefits offered by the Air Guard. For her, there was an added significance since she is a former DPS student herself.
    “I love being able to tell the students what’s available and to not only be an example to talk about the benefits of joining, but to be able to actually attest to it. Personally, I know what I’m telling them about,” said Cook.
    The benefits for Cook include a college degree and travel. Recruiters from the Army National Guard also got their chance to praise their chosen service. They talk about the same benefits and also about the experiences the students could take away if they decided to join.
    “Being there with these kids is one of the perks of the job – I get to see the future of my military in them, and I get to be a part of that,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Gaignard.
    As a recruiter, Gaignard said, the pandemic is making it harder to personally communicate with the students, but it’s also providing excellent talking points for the webinars. The students only have to look at the news to see what the National Guard is doing in Michigan. Like every state in the nation, Michigan guard members are helping the community during the pandemic. Last week, Michigan guard members were also activated to respond following devastating floods in the area of Midland County.
    “I think the National Guard is one of the best kept secrets in the world and a lot of people don’t understand what we do,” said Gaignard. “In recent days with COVID-19, they can see what we do in real time.”
    Gaignard, who enjoys being a DJ in his spare time, had a lot of sound equipment at home and really got into his hour of teaching the students about what his organization could do for them. He enjoyed it, mostly because he misses not being able to go out and talk to the students face-to-face.
    “This gives us another opportunity to reconnect with our students and provide them with information at the same time,” said Gaignard.
    In addition to the webinar, Gaignard decided to post his talk to Facebook to draw in more than the DPS students. During his hour he is able to talk to the students and answer any questions they may have, like he would during a normal school recruiting event.
    “Normally these recruiters are in the schools doing career fairs and presentations in classrooms, but because of COVID-19, we don’t have the exposure to students to do those. This is another avenue that we’re doing to mitigate the risk of [spreading the virus] during an in-person meeting,” said Capt. Steven Babbitt the Detroit district recruiting company commander.
    Babbitt was very pleased with the webinar’s results. He said the Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps for the DPS decided to hold them to continue offering the military as a career choice for the students. Each service has their own day to promote their respective benefits.
    “It’s a new and dynamic world and we’re writing the recruiting playbook for future generations right now. We’re able to share success stories amongst our force and we’re able to spread best practices,” said Babbitt.
    The pandemic has forced many changes in the short term. Like many, the Michigan National Guard recruiting office is finding new ways to work within the guidelines of social distancing to find success. With new and innovative practices, there is a strong potential for them to merge the new ways with the old, so they can come out even better than before. (Story by Michigan Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera)



    Date Taken: 05.27.2020
    Date Posted: 05.28.2020 17:51
    Story ID: 370948
    Location: DETROIT, MI, US

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