My name is Mrs. Budgetsaresexy, and I used to hustle as a Phonathon Associate.
A few caveats on this side gig: 1) I only lasted in the job for a short period of time; 2) I was in college at the time (“I was only experimenting, Mom!”); and 3) I have pretty much always hated talking on the phone, especially to strangers — so to say the least, this wasn’t the best hustling experience for me. Others, however, may have had more positive experiences with this type of thing!
My Phonathon adventure began at the start of my senior year of undergrad. Like any newly-minted 21 year old, I was eager for any chance to make some extra money to stock up on school supplies—namely, beer. So, when I noticed a flier for “easy, part-time work” with “flexible hours,” I figured checking it out was worth a shot.
Boy, was I wrong. After a brief phone interview with the manager (to establish, presumably, that I was both a current student and not demonstrably insane), I headed into my first day of training without actually even knowing what it was that a Phone Bank Associate did – besides, you know, using a phone. It soon became clear that these associates essentially were responsible for calling university parents and alumni to ask for donations to the school. My instructors were quick to point out how engaging – entertaining, even – the work could be. “I even booked a babysitting job from one of my calls!” I recall hearing from one of the more chipper student trainers.
Suffice it to say, the training was the best day of work I had at the Phonathon … and I did not receive any baby-sitting offers. In the few weeks I was there, I was hung up on, scolded, asked never to call back (a BIIIIIG no-no for my Associate rating) – but the hands-down worst call was when I had to try to coax donations out of a struggling single father of a student at the school. He didn’t yell; he just asked me what he was supposed to do when he was scraping to make ends meet just to pay his son’s tuition. Even though I had a script I was supposed to read from – “If they say no to $100, ask them about a smaller amount!” – I had no response. Eventually I just thanked him for his time, and resolved to make that my last night of working the job.
The biggest lesson I learned from this short-term side hustle is that I’m not cut out to be a money-wrangler. This is not a dig at phone bank jobs, per se – we all know that causes have to raise money somehow – but just a personal statement of how completely and utterly inept I am at getting people to give me stuff :) But I suppose it’s better to have learned that lesson in college than to have tanked at a more professional sales task later down the road.
I will say there are few more gems of wisdom I learned from this experience, too:
On the pros of phone bank-related work:
- Practice at making small talk (good for any profession)
- Opportunities for extra cash for making big sales
- General night and weekend hours (ideal for side hustles)
- Possibilities for networking – (babysitting, anyone??)
On the cons of phone bank-related work:
- Repetitive and usually micro-managed tasks
- Berating by displeased call recipients
- Competitive, sales-driven work environment (in my team’s case, with whiteboard results ticked off after every call)
Obviously, this particular side hustle comes down to a matter of personal preference: if you’re a people person, good at sales, and don’t mind getting yelled at, a Phonathon position might be a terrific fit! (which, as it turns out, suits Mr. Budgetsaresexy quite well). If you’re less inclined toward those traits, though, my advice would be to steer clear. There are plenty of other gigs to explore!
Guest Post by Mrs. BudgetsAreSexy — who feels better getting this off her chest ;) If you have a Side Hustle Fail you’d like to share, let us know! Not all jobs are perfect fits.
(Photo by TriggerHappyDave)