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Recruiting in the Age of COVID

A new cadet takes a Guidon book after checking in during New Cadet Move-In in August.
A new cadet takes a Guidon book after checking in during New Cadet Move-In in August.

By Lt. Col. Dave Williams ‘79, U.S. Army (retired)

The pandemic has brought about many changes, and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets has not been exempted, particularly in the area of recruiting. 

Normally, we would be at the height of the fall recruiting season, with Corps alumni volunteers assisting the university admissions office at college fairs across the East Coast and beyond. 

All of these in-person events are now in a virtual format. 

Now, more than ever before, we need to be networking to get the Corps’ message out to high school seniors and juniors. Because they are not able to come to us at the college fairs, we need to find them. 

Who do we know in our families, our extended families, our work contacts, our civic contacts, and our church contacts who are the parents/grandparents of these high school-age students? Reach out to them and talk from your heart about the Corps and its amazing track record of graduating leaders for both the military and civilian worlds. 

If you don’t feel qualified to talk in detail about the Corps, just guide them to the Corps’ online home at vtcc.vt.edu. If you need inspiration for them (and for ourselves) go to vt.edu, find “virtual visit,” then scroll down to the list of topics and select “Corps of Cadets.” That will launch an amazing two-minute film on the Corps that will make you proud!

Beyond networking for this year, I would encourage you to not lose sight of the long game in the area of recruiting. Our goal remains to have 1,400 cadets in the Corps in two to three years. 

The pandemic will either pass or an effective vaccine will be available soon. Alumni recruiters are working on exciting programs to get the Corps’ message out to high school students through renewed contact at Society of American Military Engineers conferences, the Civil Air Patrol, and scouting. Let’s look forward to participating in these programs as well as a return to our traditional recruiting role at college fairs.

Ut Prosim.