It amazes me what a bad reputation my job gets. Wouldn’t you be a little concerned if every time you told people where you work you saw this look in their eye that almost said, “I’m sorry” or a less empathetic “sucks to be you”? Wouldn’t you wonder why your school paper would warn the student body not to apply to work at the same place unless they are thick-skinned? Well, that’s the sad reality for employees of the Michigan Telefund. And as a manager and trainer, I’m a little disgusted by it and, most recently, the Daily’s article perpetuating this sad reality (About Campus: Taking abuse at Telefund, 11/18/2008).
I’ve worked at Michigan Telefund, the University’s telemarketing fundraising company, for two and a half years. I’ve met so many people that I can’t walk on campus for five minutes without seeing at least three or four friends who I’ve met either at work or through a coworker. I’ve gained enough experience raising money, managing and training employees and working in a team environment that I have the utmost confidence in my résumé anytime I apply for an internship. I’ve been lucky enough to have a job that brings new challenges, new successes and new laughs every day.
And more importantly, I’ve seen hundreds of dedicated employees raise nearly $8 million for the University. I’ve seen history made as we raised more than $100,000 in a single night and $1 million dollars in a single month. I’ve trained dozens of employees on the importance of what we do because we lay the foundation for future donors who will keep the University highly ranked. And I’ve seen the look of excitement on a coworker’s face when that person gets a $5,000 pledge that they know will change a future student’s life.
Now, I know I’m biased. I realize that this job, like any other, is not necessarily for everyone. I’ve talked to my share of angry alumni, but the vast majority of them are personable. And I know it can get a little monotonous, but is any job as exciting after a few months as it is the first day? At least at Telefund, you’re constantly surrounded by different people and new challenges. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way because current or former employees recommend the majority of people who apply. To me this means that our staff thinks enough about the work we do to get our friends involved.
The general animosity towards the Telefund is appalling. We raise money for students who, in many cases, are not able to afford a University education. While doing this we have to making sure our alumni think highly of what the University is doing. Yes, we are persistent, but we also realize that different alumni have different priorities — for example, if an alum has other financial commitments, we respect those. What we do at Telefund is done with the best interest of the University, the alumni and, most importantly, the students in mind.
All in all, I ask that students to keep things in perspective. Telefund pays more than almost any other campus job I know, we work in a laid back atmosphere with our friends and we raise millions of dollars to help students all over campus. So if you need a job, thin-skinned or not, check us out.
Mike Mikho is an LSA sophomore.