City’s students play an important role in fundraising for the future. This spring, Student Callers take part in the annual telephone fundraising campaign to connect with the alumni community, gain valuable skills and raise money for important projects.
Ever wondered who the Student Callers are and what impact your support has on their futures? Well …
There’s a buzz in the room.Nineteen Student Callers are sat at their desks, wearing red and black headsets, and talking to alumni. Voices bounce off each other with snippets of cheerful introductions, requests for more information, and promises of call-backs.
Among the City and Bayes students working this evening are Adele Crealey, a Criminology student, Ayesha Hossain, in her third year of Business and Accounting, and Connor Knights, soon to finish his studies in Business Management. In addition to earning an income, they all had their own reasons why they applied to be fundraisers for the spring telephone campaign run by the Philanthropy Team at City.
“A big reason is that I’ve received the Student Hardship fund in the past and it really did help me out. I thought this is the best way to give back,” Adele explains.
She says she loves talking to people and as her mum is a nurse and her dad’s an engineer, she feels comfortable connecting with alumni from all walks of life.
Ayesha, in turn, hopes to build on her previous experiences. She used to work with the Student’s Union as a Project Supervisor and would call new starters and current students to see how they were doing.
“The thing that struck me the most about this role was speaking to alumni and gaining that confidence. Because I am in my third year, and graduating very soon, hopefully, I do need those transferable skills as well,” Ayesha says.
Connor used to work as an Estate Agent before embarking on his degree and felt his skillset and his love for talking to people on the phone made him suitable for the role. To him, the chance to connect with alumni felt very valuable.
“It provides a really good opportunity, especially as a business student, to talk to previous business students about how they went about finding work afterward,” Connor says. “I would like a career in consultancy, and I would say that a lot of the people that I’m calling, a lot of the Bayes graduates, have gone into consultancy of some sort. So, it’s really good to get their honest opinion on what the job is like, what the hours are like, and what to expect.”
The City and Bayes Spring Telephone Fundraising Campaign first started in 2016 and raises donations towards the City Future Fund and Bayes Future Fund. These funds support several important projects at the University such as student support, widening participation; particularly for care leavers, and the ground-breaking Aphasia Clinic.
“It is the ever-constant generosity and commitment of our alumni that make these campaigns such a joy,” Regular Giving Manager Jason Barlow says.
According to Jason who oversees the campaign, the fundraising is done by students so they can gain crucial experience.
“My favourite aspect of the telephone campaign is always seeing the students grow into the role. Often our students are incredibly nervous at the beginning of a campaign – so am I – but it’s striking how quickly they grow in confidence, often realising things about themselves that they didn’t initially know,” Jason says.
The opportunity to speak to alumni can have a particularly valuable impact on the students.
“Indeed, because the alumni of City and Bayes are incredibly inspiring people, we regularly see our students reviewing their career path choices and decisions in light of insights gained during the campaign,“ Jason says.
Although alumni receive a letter in advance, informing them about the campaign, it’s natural that the Student Callers experience a range of responses when they get in touch.
“You get some people who are really interested in the programme, and really interested in helping young students like me, but then you get people who’ve had such a long day and they just want to go to sleep or eat that dinner,” Ayesha says and explains how she fully understands those who may not be pleased with her call.
“I put myself in their shoes”, she says.
Connor’s experiences mirror Ayesha’s in many ways, but overall, he feels that City’s and Bayes’ alumni are very generous with their time.
“Alumni are really willing to give their advice, more so than I thought they would be, especially when you’re calling them at six or seven in the evening,” he says.
For Adele, shared experiences make for a positive interaction.
“A lot of alumni have had lots of positive experiences of the University, and so have I, so it’s great to have a chat about that,” she says. “It’s really great to go down memory lane and hear all these different names and different places where people have lived as well.”
Looking toward the future and their careers, Adele, Ayesha, and Connor already see the benefits of the work they’re doing now.
“I’m getting a lot of confidence in speaking more formally,” Ayesha says. “Just that skill to speak to people and engage in a conversation, having not spoken to them before and not knowing much about them.”
“Whatever line of work I go into,” Adele says. “I’m always going to have to talk to people, whether it be on the phone or in person, so I think this is one of the best ways to learn.”
Communicating with people she doesn’t know may well become an important part of Adele’s career.
“My dream job would be as a detective in the Met Police. That’s my goal. I have to work hard and get there.”
Connor agrees it’s important to be able to approach people confidently, but also highlights the benefits of knowing how to listen.
“I think practicing that is extremely valuable. And it’s probably something that we don’t do enough, both in schools and universities or colleges as well. It’s something you literally have to learn by jumping in at the deep end, so to speak, and doing it that way,” he says.
Connor hopes he might have some conversations that lead to good connections on, for example, LinkedIn, which are really important for him as a business students.
Having been away from their desks for a few minutes, Adele, Ayesha, and Connor return to the buzz. The headsets go back on. The evening has just begun and they’re eager to connect with the alumni community they will soon be joining, and perhaps receive a donation so City and Bayes students can achieve their goals in the future.
Big thank you to Adele Crealey, Ayesha Hossain and Connor Knights for talking to us about their work and experiences as Student Callers. We wish them the very best in their studies and future careers!
If you would like to contact the Philanthropy Team at City, please email Jason.Barlow@city.ac.uk .