Weird College Jobs: Student Call Center

Remember when you were a kid and your home phone would ring, and your mom would look at the caller ID and say “Ugh, don’t answer that”? Or maybe your dad would naively pick up the same type of call, only to end up sighing uncomfortably or bickering with the person on the other end.

Yep, telemarketers. This is no child’s dream job. However, it could be a college student’s most convenient job.

Student call centers and alumni calling centers are programs on campus run by a university that hire students to call alumni for updated contact information, news about campus improvements, and, of course, donations.

A.K.A.: my new part time weird college job.

Though we aren’t technically telemarketers, we function similarly and are treated the same.

How I Got Started

I first learned about the bright opportunity available to me to call strangers and ask for money when I was confronted by a booth of students on campus touting a “Earn $9/hour While Doing Your Homework” sign.

How wonderful, just what I’ve been searching for all this time! Not quite.

But, I thought back to the $9/hour and looked to my empty wallet and wrote my name down on their contact sheet anyway. Plus, the call center was walking distance from my apartment, and they said I could work on homework while on the job.

Two weeks later, I was working my first shift. And now I’ve been working there for almost two months.

No, it’s not the most glamorous job. And no, it’s not insanely fulfilling. But, it can be entertaining. From the alumni who ramble on about every moment of their lives since graduation, to the grumpy old men who call you “sweetheart” and blame you personally for the most recent political student protest on campus, there are always some interesting people to talk to. And by interesting, I mean a wide range of interactions- from uncomfortable to hilarious.

Stories from the Call Center

As for uncomfortable, I’ve had a woman suggest that I look up her son in the university’s directory and grab lunch with him. AKA- look up her son and take him on a date. She expressed her worry for him in not finding friends – “or a girlfriend.” Yikes.

And on the other hand, there have been some just straight up hilarious encounters…especially when it comes to voicemails. Though we don’t leave voicemail messages as callers, I’ve listened to a wide variety of wacky, intricate voicemail recordings.

Let’s see…there was a math teacher’s voicemail that was an entire one-minute rap about math (seemed completely unrelated to leaving a voicemail, but I guess that’s not my business).

And then there was the trick voicemail starting off with a “Yooo, what up?!” followed by a silence where I hesitantly began speaking, only to be cut off by a “Nah, just kidding, leave a message- or really, just text me homie.” Not kidding, this was a real voicemail message available for all to hear.

Safe to say, working in a student call center can be quite entertaining at times.

What I’ve Learned

But as odd, and sometimes uncomfortable, as these calls have been, I have to admit I have learned a few things. Especially tips for those of you who answer our dreaded calls:

  1. If you are an alumni and have absolutely no interest in speaking to us or hearing what we have to say, make up an excuse as quickly as possible and hang up. We get it…not everyone wants to be prodded for money. But we can’t hang up on you, so you’ve got to do it.
  2. Being rude and complaining to me about your issues with the school because “someone there has gotta hear it!” isn’t going to fix anything on campus, and I’m definitely not going to run and advocate for your position to the university president. But really, I’m just a student caller…I have no power.
  3. We get really, really excited over donations, even as small as $20. Extremely excited! We are ranked and evaluated on how many donations we receive, and we’re really just trying to keep this part time job to continue to afford concerts and food outside of our dorms or kitchens.

Being on this end of all types of calls, both cringe-worthy and successful, I have to say it’s overall not a bad gig. If nothing else, it grows communication and phone skills, and teaches students how to deal with all kinds of people, even the most unpleasant ones.

So, if a job offer comes along that sounds strange or unconventional, give it a shot anyway! It may be the perfect fit for your schedule as a student, and maybe even give you some interesting stories to tell as well.

Do you have a weird college job? We want to hear about it!

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