SF State Calling
Inside a campus office space filled with dozens of students
making phone calls, the sound of victory suddenly rings out.
"Thank you for your generous donation to San Francisco State,"
says undergrad Kerry Richards. She hangs up the phone and steps away
from her colleagues, 28 students calling SF State alumni on a Tuesday
night in March. Their goal is to raise money for the University's Annual
Fund, which supports SF State's most urgent needs -- anything from student
scholarships to technology upgrades in classrooms. Alumni can also earmark
their donations for a particular college or program near and dear to
"The best part is talking with alumni from a wide age range,"
says Richards, a recent transfer student from Los Angeles, who enjoys
chatting with alumni who share her enthusiasm for SF State. "It's
been great to get their recommendations for professors, classes, things
to do," she says.
Making as many as 100 calls per night has also helped Richards hone
her communication skills. "If this isn't training to become a confident
and persuasive speaker, I don't know what is," she says.
Indeed, striking up a conversation with a faceless stranger can be awkward.
But, "What's more difficult than asking for money?" says Jennifer
Smith, a broadcast major who has worked in the call center since October,
when the phone campaign began. "This job has helped me personality-wise.
I've become more outgoing."
Yes, there are occasional hang ups and people certain the calls are
some kind of scam. "You can't get discouraged," Smith says.
As a liaison between alumni and the University, she passes their concerns
and suggestions to her supervisor, who monitors each call to make sure
all goes smoothly. Most often, she says, alumni ask what she's studying
and offer advice for her future career. "It's nice. When we hang
up, they say 'I know you'll succeed.'"