Diary Of A McMaster Call Girl: Finding Meaning In A Student Call Centre Job

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On the rough, tough, student-ridden streets of McMaster University, one does whatever it takes to stay afloat of the financial burden of student debt.

I am one of those students and, last summer, I found myself in the uncomfortable situation of job hunting.

By midsummer, OSCAR (McMaster’s Online Student Career And Recruitment site) had become my closest — and most hated — companion. I frequently found myself wandering through the endless array of job websites, but each application I sent only resulted in perpetual disappointment.

Sometimes students have to face reality and forgo meaningful work to pay their tuition. University call centres usually pay well and, as Ishani Nath explains, talking to alumni can be a great way to find useful information and feel good about your school

After what seemed like an eternity of empty inboxes, there came a day when a message finally appeared and I started my journey toward becoming a McMaster call girl.

The usual formalities followed and within weeks I began my training. The first-day nerves were present throughout, but my first visit to the McMaster alumni call centre brought a wave of ease. The small room lined with calling booths was filled with chatter and laughter from the team of McMaster students gathered before their shift began.

At first glance, the centre appeared to be more of a common room due to the posters and games covering almost every inch of the walls. Each season, the callers pick a theme for the room decorations and I had walked into the season of game shows.

The training that followed was more extensive than one would expect for a call centre position. I learned of McMaster’s many accomplishments which typically exceed common student knowledge, such as the fact that McMaster is only one of four Canadian universities to make the list of the 100 best universities in the world.

Being a caller is essentially being an ambassador for your university, so training was heavily based on learning how to engage alumni and help them realize the connection they hold with their alma mater.

After three preparation sessions, I was on the phone. The facts I had memorized during training began to come more from the heart than from a script, and I began to clearly view the need for student giving and the value of alumni support.

McMaster prides itself on the diversity of its student body and this feature is carried over into the world of Mac alumni. Callers speak with alumni ranging from graduates of the Class of 1940 to graduates from this past April. Regardless of the time elapsed since they graduated, alumni are generally ready and willing to nostalgically relive their days at the Downstairs John or the new David Brailey Athletic Center.

With practice, calls became an enjoyable conversation between two people with a shared university experience. In fact, majority of the alumni that I speak with provide helpful advice on programs or courses that helped them during their time at McMaster.

It was through one of my conversations with an arts and science alumnus that I learned about the opportunity to complete a free exchange in Scandinavia, one which I plan to pursue in my third year.

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About the author

Ishani Nath is a proud McMaster alum, aspiring writer and current journalism grad student at Ryerson University. When she's not hammering out articles, she can usually be found on a patio or nestled on a couch trying to keep up with those crazy Kardashians. She hopes to one day have a job that makes her excited to get up each morning, or at least one that gives her free food. Intrigued? Enthralled? Learn more by following her on @ishaninath.