Thursday, November 19, 2009

"You do what?...."

Saying my job title in a group is always interesting. "I'm a 'Phonathon Coordinator'," I'll say. Puzzled looks and furrowed brows appear of the face of the hearers. Most times, I have to explain it in such a brief way that it fails to encompass all that I do. Simply stated, I manage student telemarketers or as some like to call them "telefundraisers." That's right, I manage a group of students who work in a field that about 99% of the U.S. population would probably agree that they hate. We call and ask people to give my alma mater money.

When asked how I got into my line of work, I always say "No one says, 'I want to be a Phonathon Coordinator' when I grow up." I earned a degree in Broadcasting in 2004. During my time as a student, I became involved in several areas on campus including housing, advisement, admissions and student media. My experience on several student staffs sparked an interest in managing student staffs and assisting in the development of a variety of leadership skills ranging from peer management to communication skills.

Shortly after graduation, my uncle asked me to describe me "dream job." My answer was simple. "I can work anywhere and I really don't mind what I do, but I want to BE IN CHARGE." I realized freelancing would not provide the financial support necessary to sustain a living and pay off college loans, so I continued to apply for jobs in higher education--all student services related.

In mid 2005, I found a job on the HR site at my alma mater for a "Phonathon Coordinator." I had no idea what a "phonathon" and was and I was completely unfamiliar with the Phonathon program there or anywhere else. The only required experience I possessed was student staff management. I applied, interviewed, and nearly 4 years later, here I am. What I've found is a thriving industry and thousands of dedicated professionals. No one says "I want to be a 'Phonathon Coordinator' when I grow up," but those who become coordinators quickly learn they've stumbled upon a career with tons of opportunities and intangible rewards.

The relationships I've built with my callers and the progress I've seen them make as fund-raisers, leaders and ambassadors for the University's mission have been amazing. Reaching goal is always a priority that I drive home with my staff but nothing beats the remarkably satisfying feeling of knowing I've impacted the college experience of individual students. To me, this is worth more than dollar goal I will ever reach.

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