It’s Labor Day weekend. If you’re lucky, you don’t have work Monday. If you’re not lucky, Monday will be just another day in the office. Since I always seem to have some sort of work to do, I’m sure I’ll end up working as well. Outside of having a full-time career in human resources, I keep myself busy with work I actually enjoy. Everything from web design, social media consulting, and finishing up a book, to finalizing a script for a TV treatment my writing partner and I are working on and my full-time job as a single parent. To say I have a lot on my plate is an understatement. I actually enjoy everything I do but that wasn’t always the case.
During my sophomore year at Rutgers University, I had the worst job ever. Every night after my classes ended by 7 p.m., I rushed to a large room on campus that had rows of desks and phones. Welcome to telefund hell. It was the equivalent of a sweatshop, but with phones and underpaid students. We were required to make at least 100 calls a night to alumni asking for donations. I can’t even begin to count how many times people hung up on me after I told them why I was calling. Several times I was cursed out because people stated their degree was worthless and they couldn’t find a job, so why the hell was I calling? The other half of the time I think people gave money just to get me off the phone. A few people even gave advice: “You won’t find a job. You’re wasting your time trying to graduate.” To say the job was demeaning and stressful is putting it nicely.
Everybody has her breaking point.
“Good evening, Mr. Walsh. I realize you’re probably in about $30 thousand worth of student loan debt, but I’m calling to beg you to give to your alma mater. I’m sure you’re probably not even using this expensive degree you received from this expensive state university, but whatever you can donate would be greatly appreciated. I, too, will be in your position in a couple of years and will also probably receive this same phone call. As much as I’m going to want to hang up or curse out the poor student at the end of this phone, I’ll give $5 just to make them go away.”
Yes, I really said that to someone.
After calling people and getting hung up on for weeks, after having people ask me, “Where the hell did you get my number?”, after mispronouncing some of the Indian names of alumni and getting yelled at, after not being able to take a break to get a drink because of a parched throat, I finally lost it.
Yes, I got fired. It was the happiest day of my life. I picked up my bag and practically ran out of the room. I felt like Martin Luther King Jr. — free at last, free at last. Eventually, I found another job off campus. It was working as a human resources assistant at Johnson & Johnson, and it definitely made an impact on my present career.
Working in that telefund sweatshop taught me two valuable lessons: No job is worth stressing over, and keep your options open.
Clutchettes, what’s your job horror story?