Call Centre creating relationship with alumni

Todd Bioletti has assigned himself a new title – alumni-in-training. Returning for his third round at the University of Lethbridge call centre, the second-year kinesiology student is very aware of the impact alumni have at the University.

"I didn't really know what being an alumni meant before working at the call centre – I certainly hadn't given it any thought," acknowledges Bioletti. "Now, I know what an alum is and I can see it's about more than just graduating."

Bioletti picked up the phone for the first round of calls last fall and has been dialing ever since.

"We called just under 12,000 alumni last year and, for the most part, people are pretty talkative," says Bioletti, who attributes the candour to the fact that it was students making the calls. "As students calling former students, there is an instant connection."

2010 Call Centre
Student callers, including Todd Bioletti and Karissa Patton, will begin calling Faculty of Arts & Science alumni at the end of October.

The work has been positive, for both his bank account and his student experience.

"The call centre is a great place to work," says Bioletti, who admits that some of the fun happens when the phones are hung up. "The extra money is helpful, and I like that my job ties me back to the University."

"Talking to so many alumni about their experiences has made me appreciate the opportunities I have as a student."

Launched as a pilot project last fall, the call centre is now part of the annual giving program at the U of L. Student callers phone alumni to tell them about what's happening at the University, update contact information and to ask for a donation. Whether or not they make a gift, alumni have been happy to get the call.

"The conversations start with me introducing myself and talking about what I'm doing here, but I usually end up learning more about the alum than they learn about me," says Bioletti. "I've got some really great advice about my program and future career options."

As a result of the experience, Bioletti now understands the importance of engagement and has established his connection to the U of L very early in his academic career.

"Working at the call centre helped me to meet people and helped me understand a little more about the University than I did before," explains Bioletti. "Talking to so many alumni about their experiences has made me appreciate the opportunities I have as a student."

The call centre will start calling Faculty of Arts and Science alumni later this month, attempting to reach almost 6,000 people. Bioletti sees this as a great way to connect with alumni.

"I hope one day students are phoning to tell me about what's happening at the U of L," jokes Bioletti.