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The Rollercoaster of Emotions You Feel as a Phonathon Worker


Here’s a little known fact: the bulk of the money for libraries, scholarships, and student initiatives aren’t from our tuition, but from a group of about 70 students with headsets, sitting in cubicles in the basement, harassing strangers for money. Just kidding. It’s from the work of student callers like myself calling up alumni, parents, and friends of McGill to fundraise for initiatives all over campus. While it’s rewarding work because all the money raised goes directly to worthy causes that wouldn’t receive funding otherwise, and it can be very cool to connect with past students, working for McGill Phonathon can be quite…taxing on your emotions.  Let me take you on a journey.

Second Disclaimer: There are headsets, so we don’t hold a phone to our faces for hours on end. 

  • When you first start your shift: You’re in a pretty good mood, daydreaming about all the donations you’re going to process today, thinking about all the ways to discuss the importance of giving back to the school, etc. etc.
  • When the people on the other end are lovely, responsive, and engaged in conversation with you:
  • When they say yes to donating to your pitch:
  • When they offer a donation without you even asking:
  • When all of a sudden you go through a phase where nobody picks up, so you’re basically sitting there for 20 minutes until you accidentally respond to people’s voicemails because they always start with “Hello?” as if they’re there for some reason.
  • But then all of a sudden somebody does pick up and you were so not ready for it.
  • When you hear about an alumni’s successful life after surviving McGill:
  • And you bond over #McGillStudentProblems such as the struggle of going to a school situated on a hill. I once exchanged stories with one alumni of instances where we slipped on ice going up and/or down University Street. 
  • Or, there are instances where you’re talking to a parent or a grad from the 50s and they’re asking you all of these things that you just don’t know about so you just have to constantly ask your supervisor.
  • But then sometimes people are really unresponsive to anything you ask them, so you become desperate to find something to connect with them on.
  • And although this rarely happens, the worst is when people are unnecessarily rude..
  • And all you really want to do is: 
  • But then you gotta take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re a professional and you can’t take anything personally, so you kill them with kindness because happy caller = more dollars.
  • And then after you’ve ended that conversation, you’re scared to have the next conversation because what if the person on the other end is equally rude or even meaner than the previous person you talked to. Why can’t people understand that we’re just trying to do our jobs and fundraise for good causes around campus. 
  • But then your faith in humanity is restored with nice people and nice conversations.
  • And your confidence skyrockets.
  • When break starts but you’re having a nice conversation and you can feel yourself getting a donation:
  • When you hear a cute voicemail that’s clearly by the 5 year old resident because they’re mispronouncing words:
  • When you get a donation that helps you hit your shift goal:
  • And finally, when your supervisor calls for end of shift:

Because even after a really good shift, you just can’t wait to get off the phone and not hear an automatic dialing tone every two minutes. 


All gifs obtained from giphy.

Angel Yu

McGill '20

Angel is a fourth year at McGill University, doing a double major in physiology and computer science. Besides being a part of Her Campus, she is also a varsity athlete. She has a love for big city skylines and tiny little animals and can always be found putting her best effort into everything she does, along with a chai latte in hand.
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