This month, students received an email from UCD Foundation detailing the available student caller positions “on campus” in light of their forthcoming seasonal telephone campaign.

Established in 1997, the UCD Foundation continues to work to “advance the future of UCD as a centre of excellence in learning, education and research”, in line with developmental goals. Asides from fundraising, the foundation offers calling work to current students, employing some 180-200 students over the course of the academic year during their peak seasonal telephone campaigns.

The Foundation promotes the job for students as being an opportunity to enhance their professional skills, engage with and become inspired by UCD alumni, as well as the work being flexible to accommodate student’s academic obligations. The most recent email sent out to students in early January also claimed that the work would take place “on campus”, “under strict health and safety guidelines”, despite current governmental limitations on essential work and the encouragement of remote working. With the recruitment period underway, The College Tribune reached out to former students who worked for the foundation in order to capture their opinions and experiences with the job.

“Very few pros to the job”

One student stated that the main advantages of the work were its convenient location on campus, the somewhat uncomplicated nature of minor administrative tasks and that it was a practical method of income for the ordinary student. Despite this, they stated that the nature of the phone calls was challenging, adding that “Calls can be very depressing” and that one is “almost berated for not getting the donation no matter how hard you try”. 

It was noted that in a lot of cases, there was a lack of strong connection between certain call recipients to UCD and those listed did not fit the Foundation’s previously described bill of graduated UCD alumni. Instead, many phone calls were placed to those merely “remotely involved” with UCD. In one case, a call recipient had attended a course “across the border” and “hadn’t even known it was UCD”.

The Foundation claimed that the goal of calls was to “Gain feedback from alumni”, however, this was not said to be wholly accurate, with many calls involving alumni “making complaints” and the student caller having to “listen and apologise”. Such complaints were said to have been “disregarded” by management. In other cases, calls involved “contacting recent graduates who had absolutely no money” and who “hadn’t found a job since their graduation a mere week ago”.

In terms of ‘flexible’ and accommodating working hours, it was stated that shifts were “first come first served” and that there was pressure to attend a minimum of two shifts per week. “If you couldn’t make at least two shifts a week you were let go” and that in certain cases it was necessary to “miss class to keep the job if I didn’t get any shifts that suited”.

Management of the Foundation was described as being “pleasant for the most part” however it was added that an “inner circle” existed and that certain supervisors “gave their favourites the best people [to call] – repeat donors who give money every year”.

The fundamental charitable aims of the Foundation were acknowledged by the former employee, stating that “It’s great that money is being raised for people who can’t afford college themselves however added that the Foundation “goes about it all wrong”. “I try to discourage anyone I know from doing it”.

Eve Moore – Reporter