Recruitment When Your Target Audience is Large and Undefined

Episode 48

EP. 48:

Recruitment When Your Target Audience is Large and Undefined

Allison and Scott featuring Cynthia Thomson

with Cynthia Thomson

Cynthia Thomson is the Associate Director of Columbia University’s MA Program in Climate and Society where she manages the day to day administration of the program including recruitment, student and alumni affairs, budget, and admissions. She also spearheads strategic planning for the program through curriculum development and extracurricular activities.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Cynthia came to her position from the climate side rather than from higher ed, and why she feels passionately about the many hats she wears
  • How the Columbia University Climate and Society program came about, and why this program is so important today
  • Why the challenge for the program is finding the right students to encourage to apply due to its narrow niche and broad audience
  • Why one of the important tasks Cynthia has is to educate people on the program and explain its science-heavy nature despite being a M.A. program
  • How the program’s curriculum is unique and allows for many options to cater to the diverse students who are considering the program
  • How the team works to align the program’s messaging with the overall messaging of the university at the institutional level
  • How the program taking place in New York City offers both benefits and drawbacks for students that Cynthia and her team need to be aware of
  • Why keeping the program small and focusing on the right students with a short program has meant extremely high program completion and strong support for students
  • What actions, tools and support Cynthia has utilized to ensure her success as a team of one, and how Zoom and Slack have been powerful resources to optimize her time

Additional Resources


Cynthia Thomson

Associate Director, Columbia University Climate and Society MA Program