Willamette University

Willamette Called

Of course they’re dialing for dollars — campus wouldn’t function the same otherwise — and they tend to enjoy it considerably.

Just the other week callers raised $12,000, but not by twisting any arms. They raised $12,000 by reconnecting people: chatting about what’s going on around campus these days, what today’s students hope for and worry about and who the hardest professors are. And the exchange goes both ways, since the callers learn from alumni as well. Student outreachteam members tend to be social, experienced and well-versed in WU lore, and they are also, so far as we know, Willamette’s most numerous and effusive brand of campus employee: 20-plus fill the roster each semester and retention is uncommonly high.

Laura Braithwaite ’12, MBA’13 is a seasoned veteran. Currently on the front end of her MBA at Atkinson Graduate School of Management (AGSM), she has spent several years as an undergraduate working as a caller and managing the team. “Sometimes people say right away, ‘Ok, what do you want from me?’ What I want to do is talk — help them feel reconnected with Willamette. Giving comes when people actually want to do it.”

The job has given Braithwaite resume-building takeaways, too. She recalls entering graduate school and realizing she was better equipped than many of her peers for business-to-business work and forming alliances. Part of it is due to her nature, but part of it, she says, came from learning as a student caller how to relate to people who are different than she is and find a launch point in just about any kind of conversation.

In other words, she learned how to network effectively.

It’s not all fun and games, naturally. Braithwaite once talked to a man who was skeptical that she was getting her MBA because she is a woman. It was an exercise in tactfully reorienting a chat, even if it didn’t bear fruit in the end.

Then, two minutes later, when it was time for the next call, she reminded herself: “The next person has nothing to do with that guy.” And she was right.

Disclosure: The Scene, like basically everything on campus, is funded in part by dollars raised by student outreach callers. But we’d admire them even if it weren’t.

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MBA student Laura Braithwaite ‘12, MBA’13 is a veteran student caller.

Things to Ask Your Next Student Caller

If you find yourself without questions to ask a student caller, here are some to start the conversation:

  • Can you tell me the Buzz Bar recipe? The slacker magazine editors couldn’t get it from The Bistro last issue.
  • What happens if your candle goes out floating down the Mill Stream at matriculation?
  • Are the Preview Day streakers an official campus organization yet?
  • Does Bill Duvall in history still have his righteous beard?