It’s a Thursday night, and a group of students stand opposite each other in the admissions building, third floor. On the count of three, the students shoot paper airplanes through the air, hoping to hit the other side. Some airplanes did, other’s zigzagged. Just before the airplane war, Phyllis Weaver, development officer, and Sheri Esau, advancement assistant, served up caramel chocolate bars.
Was this a random Campus Activities Board event? Actually, it was just another work night at the Hesston College phonathon.
Phonathon, the most popular campus job next to resident assistant work, employs 27 students, up from last year’s 21.
Why is phonathon so popular? Maybe it’s the goofy prizes that Weaver hands out at the end of the evening, like the ring pop to the phoner who was “most engaging.” Or maybe it’s the airplane races, or snacks at break time. Students might be drawn to the friendly phonathon competition: After all, the students who bring in the most money have the third floor named after them, while the person who speaks with the most people receives a traveling trophy.
Weaver and Esau realized early on how important it would be to have fun on the job. They added all the activities “to help keep phoners upbeat and to help build the relationships within the group,” she said. “We hope this also helps phoners know how much we appreciate what they are doing.”
But it’s not just about the prizes and food. Weaver says one of the most motivating reasons students enjoy working at phonathon is the chance to connect with other alumni.
“We wanted to give you phoners another reason to call: to update information and to share your HC experiences and learn about the experiences of former students or parents of former students,” she said.
Sometimes people just want to chat, Emily Griffieon, a freshman phoner from Iowa, said.
“It’s really fun to hear [alumni] talk about Hesston and the pranks people pulled and the jobs they had on campus.”
The connection to alumni, the third-floor camaraderie, the CAB-style entertainment – it seems to be working for the development office, and for students like Griffieon.
“I would totally do this next year- it’s a lot of fun, and the people are great; on the phone and in person.”