The University of Illinois Foundation is, once again, hiring students to do telemarketing. It pays $10/hour and offers flexible hours right here on the Quad. Despite these advantages, the turnover in employees is so great that the UIF advertises these positions every few months and even has a Facebook page dedicated to that endeavor. The work involves calling alumni to ask for donations, and some students find it grueling, if not demoralizing. You get told “No” a LOT.
Some people do it for a few weeks or months and then decide to move on to a part-time job that has less rejection built into it.
Some people discover they’re good at it, enjoy it, and stay with it until they have an impressively large number of donations to put on their resumes and get promoted to a supervisory role.
Even if you have zero interest in cold-calling after you graduate, a stint in one of these jobs can give your career planning a boost:
- Experience. A lot of of rewarding jobs involve fundraising or sales. Organizations ranging from nonprofit groups to political organizations to tech companies ask people for money all the time, in a lot of different ways. You’re at an advantage applying for those jobs if you’ve had some experience and know what it feels like to ask people for money, even if it’s not the main duty of the position.
- Applied humanities skills! In your classes, you learn a lot about communicating across and within cultures, persuading, listening, and flourishing in a range of rhetorical situations. These jobs require you do do all those things, but in real time with real stakes. Even if you don’t enjoy it, you’ll emerge with a better sense of how and where you’d prefer to apply those skills.
- Self-knowledge. You might be good at it. Fundraising is one of those talents–like writing rhymed verse or playing a musical instrument–that you can’t know you have until you give it a try. Unlike those other things, though, you can get paid for the time you spend on the venture.
- Life skills. You’ll get a lot of practice dealing with rejection. The sooner in life you can get comfortable with hearing “No” and moving gracefully on to the next conversation, the more opportunities you’ll give yourself to hear “Yes.” A U of I Foundation job can compress a lot of transferable life experience into a relatively short time frame. And you get paid for it.
- Fun! The Foundation values its student employees and does its best to make the experience enjoyable and worthwhile.
- It is, after all, a good cause.