Telephone Campaign: Caller Blogs

Our 2020 Telephone Campaign will begin in March and our callers are looking forward to sharing their experiences with you. in the meantime, we hope you enjoy a selection of student blogs from recent campaigns!


We even got the chance to hear from a former stand-up comedian about the art of confident communication, and the experience proved invaluable to perfecting our passionate pitches about the important projects like Student Support and Access and Outreach the Fund helps support.

The just under four-week long Telethon campaign started with three days of thorough training led by James where we got taught everything we needed to know to become successful callers and representatives of the Trinity Hall Fund. We even got the chance to hear from a former stand-up comedian about the art of confident communication, and the experience proved invaluable to perfecting our passionate pitches about the important projects like Student Support and Access and Outreach the Fund helps support.

Before long, the first calling session was upon us and we were trusted to start calling real alumni; a contrast to the funny role plays we previously acted out amongst us as practice that included fictitious alumni names such as ‘Ms Eileen Dover’ or ‘Ms Chanandler Bong’ (bonus points if you spot the innuendo). It was inevitably quite nerve-wracking at first as I was still getting to grips with the script and the processing software, but the rush of adrenaline I got after the end of my first conversation or after I processed my first donation made it all worthwhile.

Throughout the campaign, we called people from all over the world (even one guy from Barbados!) and I really enjoyed speaking to a wide variety of alumni; whether they did their undergrad, masters or PGCE here, they all had fond memories of college and it was interesting to hear the diversity of their experiences. I spoke to solicitors, bankers, teachers, an opera singer who studied SPS and was trying to get his show in London off the ground, the director of a mental health charity, and an electrical engineer who told me stories of how there were only five computers in the whole country in his time, and how he had worked on the biggest computer in the southern hemisphere at the time of his employment with an Australian government department in the 1970s.

One of my favourite parts of the telethon campaign was hearing different alumni memories and reminiscences of their time at university. One alumnus nostalgically looked back on the summer terms where students would lounge around on the lawns, drink their Pimms and go punting, describing Cambridge as a “bucolic arcadia” where “everything seemed to matter a lot but at the same time, it kind of didn’t.” A lot of the older alumni thought that there was a bigger focus on just having fun back in their day and not necessarily working as hard as current students seem to be doing. One alumnus from the 70s shared a story of how a drunk student went to Front Court at 2am to fire two bullets from his shotgun, and another described their time at Cambridge as “chasing a lot of girls round Cambridge and chasing the ball around the football pitch, being more successful at the latter than the former.”

Taking part in the telethon also came with significant perks, not to mention the lovely piece of stash we got in the form of a telethon-branded hoodie. It’s given me an insight into fundraising and what a job as a caller is like, made me learn the difference between all sorts of different payments like direct debits, standing orders, gift aid and matched giving, as well as the art of negotiation when dealing with financial or ideological objections to giving. All the callers got free accommodation provided by college over the Easter break, and although I did have to move rooms due to conferencing, moving within college was certainly a lot easier than making my parents drive down to move me out. We also got lovely food from the catering team in the form of dinners before the evening calling sessions and lunches at the weekend which were a nice opportunity to catch up with the rest of the callers and bond over funny stories and experiences from our calls. The atmosphere of the calling room was similarly laid-back and relaxed, with the team playing games like pub quiz or voicemail bingo, and the chance to win a bottle of wine if you got the last donation of the day. I also think I drank and ate my weight in the complementary tea and biscuits provided during the calling sessions, and there was even fancy coffee on offer courtesy of James bringing an espresso machine that even came with a milk frother included. All in all, the Telethon was a great experience I’d recommend to anyone wanting to give it a go!

"Trinity Hall is where you can find the friendliest people" +-

The Telethon has been an amazing opportunity. The majority of alumni confirm everyone’s suspicions that Trinity Hall is where you can find the friendliest people. Everyone I’ve gotten the chance to speak to has done great things, and their stories of how they reached to where they are, are so inspiring. I’ve received invaluable careers advice and study advice as well. Overall, it’s just been a great opportunity that I would recommend to anyone.

Trinity Hall is a great college and our alumni are as connected to it as the current students are. These halls have seen some interesting and challenging times and it’s always great to hear someone else’s experience – to appreciate what you have and what they have achieved. Our alumni are so incredibly generous! Seeing it firsthand has also made me more thankful for all the support we’re offered. They also have great words of wisdom, making our Careers Network is a great resource.


“Good evening, my name is Francis and I’m a second year undergraduate at Trinity Hall studying music”. +-

Francis - Telethon 2019These words having been firmly ingrained into my memory over the last few weeks, I’m quite certain that I will never forget my own name or what I study: I will always be grateful to the telethon for that. If my lecture notes were incorporated into the calling script, I’m fairly sure I would be on track for some pretty decent exam results this year.

Joking aside, being very sure of my own name is far from the only thing I’ll be grateful to the telethon for. Lots of free coffee, biscuits, games and stash have all contributed to my experience being thoroughly enjoyable (and my caffeine dependancy now being at a worrying level), but these probably won’t be the things I remember it for.

I applied for the telethon because I’d really loved meeting some alumni at various reunion dinners that THCC have sung for, but I had no real idea of what to expect, and did not really anticipate getting the job. Having now been working on it for about two weeks, I still don’t know exactly how each call with turn out as I dial the number – I got the impression that South Korean lady I accidentally rang at 3am (her time) was not particularly thrilled to speak to me about her time in college and the possibility of her donating to the Trinity Hall Fund – but I’m almost always taken aback by how warm and friendly the alumni are. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to has been delighted to hear about college, and chat about their time here, as well as offering me lots of advice from outside the bubble. The training days made me aware of how invaluable alumni support is to so many aspects of life in college, and its therefore incredibly gratifying to have such positive responses from people who might not have been back to college in fifty years, but who still care deeply about ensuring that current students at Trinity Hall have as good an experience as they had in various different ways.

I’ve talked to script writers, journalists (did you know I edit The TitBit?), charity workers, organists (did you know I study music?), and many, many lawyers. As well as reminiscing about favourite porters/pubs in Cambridge/staircase memories/least favourite porters, this has also been a great chance to find out about many varied and interesting career paths, many of which I didn’t know existed! Even if I don’t successfully pursue any of these immediately, equipped with my new knowledge of how to say “the number you are calling has not been recognised” in roughly 20 different languages, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the world is my oyster.

 “Thank you for taking the time to [read my telethon blog] today. I hope to see you in college again soon!”.



Despite the differences between people I speak to, we’re all united by a love of this college, and often the great experience that we’ve had here. +-

Calling for funDespite the differences between people I speak to, we’re all united by a love of this college, and often the great experience that we’ve had here.

Taking part in the Telephone Campaign has been a great experience. Speaking to people who graduated during the war, all the way up to people who graduated a couple of years ago, has given me an amazing picture of how College has changed and developed over time. It has truly made me appreciate the college and the friendly community spirit here even more, and excited to remain a part of it in the future. Despite the differences between people I speak to, we’re all united by a love of this college, and often the great experience that we’ve had here.

The biggest benefit I’ve gained personally from the campaign is the wonderful careers advice I’ve received. Speaking mainly to other lawyers, I’ve spoken to people who have used their degrees in a variety of ways: from going to the Bar, to running a water mill! Alumni have been exceptionally supportive, and been willing to talk to me on complex issues that concern me and my future career, such as the realities of being a woman in the law.

I have also become more aware of what the Trinity Hall Fund does through my training, making my support for the college even greater when I realised the extent of what they invest in for students! I was already incredibly passionate about access work in college, and have dedicated a lot of personal time to supporting the college in its access commitments. However, I have now developed an interest in even wider aspects of the Trinity Hall Fund, such as the John Collier fund, which will achieve massive amounts in providing financial support to students.

All due to alumni generosity to make sure all the students here have an amazing time at college, despite their personal situations.

Not only have I gained several skills from working for the college, getting more comfortable with making calls and starting those brilliant conversations, but I’ve also had great fun with my friends in the call room! The smiles on people’s faces when they’re having a great conversation makes the whole experience a positive one.

It can be tough sometimes, too. Occasionally I’ll come across somebody whose life has taken them in a direction that would really interest me to talk about, but when they pick up they can often be abrupt, and assume I almost want to trick them. The reality is I am genuinely interested, and just love to hear about people’s experiences. However, I am always perked up by the people who clearly genuinely want to speak to me to, and that I can have a laugh with. Thanks to everyone who has had a wonderful conversation with me. I hope I can do this again next year, too!

This might just be a sign that my priorities (re: trains and food) could probably do with realigning. +-

Happy CallerThis might just be a sign that my priorities (re: trains and food) could probably do with realigning.

Doing the Telethon has been fab so far – it’s been great hearing about all the interesting things that Tit Hall alumni have gone on to do. I’ve spoken with a political correspondent from ITV news, a bishop from Carlisle, a Lehman Bros. employee from the time of The Crash, and a startling number of freelance cellists. That’s not to say that the people who I’ve spoken to from more conventional career backgrounds are any less engaging – I spoke with someone in the Department for Transport about Preston Train Station for about 15 minutes straight and loved it, but that might just be me.

It’s been surprisingly easy just chatting to strangers on the phone – part of this is no doubt down to the training we got at the start of the campaign, but I think a lot of it just comes with practice. There have been some awkward phone calls to be sure, but mostly the people that I’ve spoken to have just been kind of ordinary, and the vast majority of them are happy to talk about what they’ve been up to since they’ve left Trinity Hall. The asking-for-money bit is also fairly straightforward once you’ve had a few goes at it – having a script in front of you definitely helps with that, especially once you’ve had time to familiarise yourself with what it says.

The atmosphere in the call room is usually pretty buoyant – everyone who works here is super friendly such that, even if you’re having a hard time getting through to anyone on your phone, there’s plenty of people around you to perk you up with funny or weird stories about the kinds of things they’ve ended up talking about. The games and the snacks are also a massive bonus, plus the satisfaction of being able to go to hall in the evening knowing that someone else is paying for your soup, salad, and main meal combo is pretty hard to match. Again, this might just be a sign that my priorities (re: trains and food) could probably do with realigning.

Learning about what the Trinity Hall Fund does, particularly in terms of access and financial aid, has also been cool, as a lot of those projects tend to go on behind-the-scenes and therefore don’t get the recognition they often deserve. As someone from a state school background, it meant a lot to me when I found out that three quarters of the most recent intake of freshers were from non-fee-paying schools. As a community, I think it’s amazing that we’re at the forefront of making Cambridge the accessible space that it needs to become, though obviously there’s still a long way to go yet. I sincerely hope that, by the time that it’s my turn to be rung by students on the Telethon campaign, that proportion will be a lot higher.

As lovely as it’s been so far, I’m really looking forward to my six days off over Easter before we come back again. The way the shifts are set up make it such that the work is nicely broken up and, so far, I’ve felt adequately able to handle both my revision and Telethon workloads without being overwhelmed. The ability to stay in college, rent-free, over the holidays has definitely increased my productivity, and the access to library books has been massively helpful when researching my dissertation.

Anyways, I’m going to sign of this blog thing now and get some shut-eye, ready for a bright new day of punching numbers and nattering with alumni tomorrow. Bye!



Trinity Hall is a fantastic place to be invested in. +-

Sam the CallerTrinity Hall is a fantastic place to be invested in

I’m reaching the end of the campaign now, and I’ll be sad to see it end. It will feel wrong to not spend my evenings and weekends speaking to fellow alumni about their time at the college and their careers since.

I’ve spoken to a whole range of people during the campaign. Some I speak to enough to play mastermind with their lives as my specialist subject and some have subverted all my expectations and offered to donate almost immediately. However, no matter what form the calls take, they are usually enjoyable and often make me consider either my future career or how best to use my time at Cambridge. Several alumni I spoke to have spoken very highly of the JCR, so it looks like I’ll try and run for something when I can!

The actual job itself has also exceeded all my expectations as the call room has such a chilled and fun atmosphere, most likely down to the work of James and Emma who make sure we are all pepped up and keep our focus. We also play games in the call room, generally winning more prizes when we’ve had great conversations – so if an enjoyable chat and the good work of the Trinity Hall Fund isn’t enough of a reason to donate, then please do it so that some college students can win some chocolate or wine! What’s more, taking part means that we get rent-free rooms, meals and access to the resources in college like the library. All of these have really made revision easier.

The Trinity Hall fund genuinely does seem to grab people’s interest and make them see that Trinity Hall is a fantastic place to be invested in. From my calls this far, alumni seem to be most interested in the Access & Outreach program which is encouraging as a large part of the student body feels the same, just going to show that Trinity Hall has and is a fantastically supportive environment. This is something that many alumni I’ve spoken to agree with and that I believe is created by things like alumni visiting the college and talking to current students through campaigns like this one.

I hope to do telethon again as it has been a fantastic experience, made so by the people I’ve worked with and the fantastic calls I’ve had. I look forward to speaking to as many people as I can before it’s over!

Who will I speak with – alumnus? Parent? Voicemail? +-
Emma - ready to call

Who will I speak with – alumnus? Parent? Voicemail?

Only three shifts left of the 2018 telephone campaign! It seems like these past three weeks have just flown by, and even as we near the last few days of the telethon, I still feel the same tension and excitement after dialing a number. Who will I speak with – alumnus? Parent? Voicemail? Probably voicemail, it seems – I have reached a lot of voicemails by this point in the campaign – but each new dial represents a new opportunity, a new alumnus to reach out to and a new conversation to be had about Trinity Hall.

Even the alumni that I think I might have nothing in common with (many a financier and engineer have taken pity on my English-student-ignorance in explaining to me what their jobs actually entail), it is still possible to engage in enriching and meaningful conversations about their time and experiences at college and the Trinity Hall Fund. I have spoken to physics professors, Queen’s Counsels, former Goldman Sachs executives, teachers, actors, writers, and even a Stonemason – and despite our years apart and (sometimes extreme) differences in fields of work and study, sharing reminiscences of university experiences and college life at Trinity Hall creates a connection and often makes for easy conversation.

Each conversation is different, but one of the best chats I’ve had thus far has been with an alumnus now working as a teacher in the same state school he attended before coming to Cambridge to earn his PGCE. As someone with first-hand experience of the power of funding important projects for Access and Outreach, he was enthusiastically willing to make a generous monthly donation in the hope of affording others access to the same opportunities he had. As a graduate student, I find it especially rewarding to speak with former members of the MCR. Although I’ve only been at Trinity Hall for two terms now, it is so gratifying to speak to former MPhil students and find they still feel a strong connection to college, a testament to the geniality and collegiate atmosphere of Trinity Hall.

It is the people, their experiences and stories that make this place so special. +-
James - ready to call

It is the people, their experiences and stories that make this place so special.

Fully settled into the second half of this year’s telethon I now feel like a seasoned caller and have got more than used to the idea of enjoying an engaging chat with our alumni and quiz them on their career and reminisce about their memories of College.

Calls have varied massively but every conversation has been enjoyable and it’s been hugely satisfying knowing that the campaign does so much to help allow college to continue to offer the quality of education and experience it does to each and every student. I have also been able to keep my term-time room and have had the days free to revise for my upcoming finals of my Engineering degree as well as the mornings free to get out on the river ahead of the upcoming May Bumps campaign which is a huge added bonus of taking part in the Telethon.

These two activities have also formed the basis of my most enjoyable calls – upon seeing the words “Engineering” or “Rowing” in the little ‘prospect bio’ we see before each call attempt, my eyes light up! It’s so great to chat to people who also did the things that have been such a huge part of my time at Trinity Hall and compare experiences – often with more similarities than differences! Be it sharing horror stories of 2nd year engineering exams or trading tales of bumps past, you cannot fail to appreciate the heritage of The Hall and the fact that it is the people and their experiences and stories that make this place so special.

I am very aware of the importance of the Trinity Hall Fund and have benefited from it through the availability of extra supervisions when I needed a bit of extra academic support and also an Aula Club grant towards the costs associated with rowing for the University in my 3rd year; I am therefore well placed to explain the fund and the projects it supports to the alumni I speak to and it has also been interesting to learn more about some of the other work that goes on behind the scenes to be able to talk with confidence about those aspects too.

I have had such a fantastic experience at Trinity Hall and I’ve been enjoying spending my evenings chatting to a huge variety of people but people who share at least that with me… oh and literally hundreds of answering machines!

A healthy balance of exuberant playfulness between calls, and enthusiastic professionalism during them! +-

A healthy balance of exuberant playfulness between calls, and enthusiastic professionalism during them!

I am four call shifts in to my first, and Trinity Hall’s fourteenth, telephone campaign.

Learning about what exactly the Trinity Hall Fund supports, before interview and throughout training, has been crucial in helping me to do this job – as Student Support and Access and Outreach are really important causes I actually care about. I don’t have to fake the passion behind my chat about the fund projects during the calls. It is especially rewarding when an alumnus at the other end of the phone takes a genuine interest in the projects and understands just why it is we are running the telethon, regardless of whether or not they are in a position to donate.

James and Emma have worked to keep the atmosphere in the call room positive – we try for a healthy balance of exuberent playfulness between calls, and enthusiastic professionalism during them. And of course James and Emma are there to readress that balance when it occasionally slips too far towards the former.

It turns out I might be better at the morale-directed games we play on shift than I am at my actual job as I have walked away victorious from both the Kitty Cannon and Google Feud games (don’t ask).

But I have also had some varied and interesting conversations with alumni. I have received some sincere and helpful advice about work, life and travel, and am feeling a bit less scared to graduate and move into the world beyond university. Hearing about the scope of careers alumni have gone into, particularly the slightly more unusual career paths, has led me to actually consider avenues I might not otherwise have thought about. After positive reports, I find myself thinking about trying out living in London, carrying on with higher education, applying for companies that previously completely intimidated me. It is just great to be reminded that I have options!

I’m now gearing up for my first late night overseas call session. Fingers crossed the delerium only sets in once we finish at 2am!

Telethon Take 2! +-
Callers at work

Telethon Take 2!

So this is my second telethon and after an enjoyable and successful year participating on the campaign last year, I was encouraged to work again.

The training days went smoothly, jogging a few old memories and making sure that my rusty remembrance of the running of the campaign, how to process donations, use to access and use the online system, and the general protocol for fundraising. Then our first days of calling took place…the first session was, to be entirely honest, very tricky! I reached answer-machine after answer-machine and spent the first two hours craving a human voice to talk to, wishing that it wasn’t just an automated ‘You have reached the…please leave a message after the tone’ that answered me or, even worse, an ongoing dialing tone that simply continued and continued, ringing and ringing into the looming eternity of an endless telephone line. I had a few parents pick up the phone yet whose children were no longer living at home, some were friendly and helpful, others not so much. Yet after a slightly disheartening start to the campaign, my next two shifts went well. I had several really interesting and insightful conversations, several techniques and offers of advice for jobs, and even a few regular and single donations – always a bonus! I’m not honestly sure if I relish the success of a donation purely for the joy of fundraising, or for the Cadbury’s Creme Egg that we receive as a reward, or for the sense of triumph of being able to proudly move the bottle of wine (which we pass round the room  to successful callers) over to my desk! The sense of success is great, yet whether or not people are donating, fantastic conversations are going on all over the call room, and even when we do meet answer-machines and endless dialling tones, the atmosphere and fun environment in the calling room is enough to spur us on! Playing games as we go – including call-bingo, battleships, toss-the-kitten… – and having encouragement from James, Emma, and each other, each evening is filled with a happy, friendly vibe!

No matter the donation, no matter the conversation, the call-room is filled with great motivation and, after the first few days, we’re all spurred on to continue with the rest of the campaign and our calling mission to ‘fund ourselves’!

Final Blog: lots of finals...until next time +-

Genevieve (Caller)

Final Blog: lots of finals…until next time

A final session of calling, final numbers dialled, final conversations enjoyed and final donations in…it seems strange to me that tomorrow evening won’t be spent in the call room with this group of people whom I have gradually come to know and enjoy spending time with! It also seems strange to me that the next few calls I make will be to familiar numbers, that they won’t be made with a proper phone and handset but from my mobile, and most probably on speed dial!

Yet I have certainly enjoyed my evenings of calling in the Leslie Stephen Room at Trinity Hall. I have had some incredibly interesting conversations, some surprising anecdotes, many memorable stories and a few funny jokes told to me over the phone! After hearing tales of diverse paths taken by individuals, I have changed – and changed again! – my own career choices several times over, and have benefitted from some insightful experience and learned advice too! Yet most of all I have enjoyed hearing the tales of others’ experiences of Trinity Hall, of their undergraduate life here, of their time spent similarly punting along the River Cam – something I did only a few days ago! – or reading in the old library – where a new modern one of 1998 now juts out over the riverbank – or having their beds made by the bedder (!) or breaking into May Balls…! It is so nice to hear the legacies of our college and know that the fun and fantastic experiences still continue and will continue in the future too: different and individual of course but still similar and sharing the strand of Trinity Hall College at their central heart.

We ended that final calling session with a prize-giving ceremony as Easter eggs rewarded creative title such as ‘most numbers dialled’, ‘most detailed notes’, ‘most voicemails listened to’, ‘most likely to talk to someone in the bath!’ Taking home my chocolate prize for later indulgence, I left the call room with a smile etched on my face in memory of the fun times spent there and the interesting calls I’d had, and in anticipation of the Easter break to come!

Hola! Howdy! Good-day! Hi! Bonjour! – Calling overseas and far far away! +-

Callers at work (Telethon)

Hola! Howdy! Good-day! Hi! Bonjour! – Calling overseas and far far away!

After a ‘late-night’ session of calling I feel surprisingly reinvigorated – enough so to sit down and write a blog post at 3am after having stayed up late to speak to Canadians and Americans, Trinity Hall alumni from ‘across the pond’! With Chinese take-away and a hilarious movie to bridge the gap between our usual evening calling session and the late-night hours, perhaps it’s no surprise that I feel so energised,

but tonight was particularly fun, and filled with good conversations.

Talking to American and Canadians is definitely different to talking to British or European alumni. For starters the accent is very different – something that I love and really enjoy listening to over the phone! Not only this, however, is different. Overseas students at Cambridge often had very diverse experience of our classical college. It certainly is a huge contrast from the more modern establishments of America and Canada, a very different city environment with a total culture-shock but also a time-warp effect. Not only have people travelled halfway around the world to study, many have also, effectively, travelled back in time to a beautiful, aged cityscape that lingers omnisciently in the halls of Trinity Hall and in the narrow pathways of Cambridge city.

As I talk to some alumni, they tell me of the far more modern establishments across Canada; others discuss the amazing architecture of Cambridge with the tone of genuine appreciation clear in their voices; whilst many also mentions the traditions of Cambridge that hover through the halls and tinge their time here with fond memories: May Balls, Matriculation, Graduation, formal dining, chapel service, rowing and boat-club involvement, supervisions, punting (with Pimms, of course!)…

We also discuss different ways that individuals can remain involved in Trinity Hall society and stay in touch with Cambridge University through gatherings abroad in their relevant states, through the Cambridge America Association, through returning to college for special events – such as the Black and White Ball this coming July in celebration of 40 years of female studies at Trinity Hall. Of course, for some, the dining rights are only elusively exercised but the idea of dining in hall, punting with the college punts, and staying in college accommodation certainly appeals ‘worth-the-while’ of such a long journey – especially if reuniting with old college friends, and family members en-route!

But the essence of conversation remains the same. Everyone remembers with happiness the friendliness and welcoming atmosphere of Trinity Hall – whether they came from abroad or not – alongside the beauty of the college, the incredible atmosphere of studying here, and the amazing support that it did, and still does, offer to each and every individual student. For all my callers from, or now living, overseas, the Cambridge ‘bubble’ appears to be the same: a bubble of fun, enjoyment and academia merged that is simply slightly further away for some, but in geographical distance alone, and not memory!

‘Whoa we’re halfway there…on our telethon affair…’ +-

Student Callers

‘Whoa we’re halfway there…on our telethon affair…

Halfway through the campaign definitely marks a mile-stone as we sit down for the evening session, determined to keep up the motivation and willpower that we all began with! Things have certainly changed though. To begin with we have been moved around the calling room several times, trying different places, sitting with different people, hearing different conversations and not to mention talking to around a hundred different people on the other end of the phone – and a lot of answer machines in between!

Today I had my fair share of answer machines as call-backs starting coming through, but, nevertheless, I ploughed on, determined to continue and find one person who would answer my call! I did – resulting in several interesting conversations that evening, and many generous donations too!

The conversations that we have range distinctively – from topic and experience as individuals tell of their diverse careers and many memories of life as an undergraduate and life at Trinity Hall especially! So far I have really enjoyed talking to such a wide-range of people, all sharing their different life-stories and interesting experiences and opinions with me! From lawyers to consultants, from engineers to judges, from mining experts to master-chef winners – it really has been a rollercoaster already! The jobs that Trinity Hall alumni have achieved astound and inspire me as many offer me advice for my own career, giving me ideas for insightful routes to pursue and helpful places to research more information and consider other opportunities.

Furthermore I have loved hearing about each individual’s life as a student at Trinity Hall – be it undergraduate, post-graduate, or both! The Hall has definitely changed over time as older alumni members tell me of a time when the college was solely male, or when bedders made their beds for them each morning! I hear hilarious tales of breaking into May Balls, of pranks played on friends, and on sneaky attempts to smuggle guests into the college – it all sounds like fun and reassures me of one thing, that life here at Trinity Hall has always been an adventure, has always been filled with diverse experiences as well as fantastic achievements, and continues to be a fun and fulfilling place to spend one’s student years!

A brief rush of sentimenatlity +-

Great chatA brief rush of sentimenatlity

This is my fourth year at Trinity Hall and my first Telephone Campaign! It is a special opportunity for me – now in the later stages of my PhD in social psychology –  to contribute towards the profound sense of collegiality that has defined my time here. I originally picked Trinity Hall for its intimate size and strong academic standing, but have since also come to love Hall for its all-round geniality, candle lit dinners, diverse fellowship and quaint grounds. Through the calling campaign I have met many Alumni who share similarly fond sentiments.

For instance, I recently had an enriching conversation with an Australian-based alumnus. He works to translate climate change research insights to the farmers who are affected most. He stressed that climate change effects are often hard to communicate outside because they manifest mostly as changes in the long-run averages in things like rainfall. Then, he passionately told me some of the ways his team used behavioural insights – like framing things in terms of relative risk – to help farmers maintain their yields. As a budding psychologist bent on doing impactful work, his career trajectory and passion helped cement the idea that I too might have an impactful and pro-social career. It was a timely reminder now that I have entered the somewhat myopic ‘write-up’ phase of my PhD.

From there, we spoke about our respective times at Trinity Hall. Despite being years apart we had both lived at Wychfield, sipped coffee in the MCR, and lingered in conversation at the end of countless formal dinners. He told me of the time when Master Lyons (1985-2000) humbly helped a fresher carry her bags through front court, and another when he found himself sitting right beside Stephen Hawking in a lecture! I’d have easily told him about our recent Harry Potter Hall and Master Morris’s lyrical dinnertime addresses, but I was taken with a brief rush of sentimentality.

True, Trinity Hall’s 2017 Calling Campaign does aim to raise money for pressing philanthropic needs, like student support and outreach. However, it is much more about kindling (and rekindling) the kinds of intergenerational relationships that make collegial Cambridge, and Tit Hall in particular, so special. It is these, as much as any sum raised, that will sustain college now and into the future.

A touch of déjà vu +-

Katie before calling (Telethon)

A touch of déjà vu

I’m a fourth year MMLer and I’m taking part in the Telethon this year as a returning caller, having first worked on it as a fresher, and I have been hoping I would be very confident picking up the phone again. I remember in first year I was quite intimidated by the older students working on the campaign, they seemed to know exactly what they were doing and had a much greater wealth of experiences at Trinity Hall to draw form, and more of an idea where they would be headed after graduation; what sort of career they’d be pursuing; which alumnus’ path they might be following. It was with this in mind that I felt enthusiastic to face the challenge again, and I’m glad I chose to do so.

It definitely hasn’t been as scary as first year, though not knowing what the outcome of each number dialled continues to be a little tense. I’m always hoping to get to know the alumnus on the end of the phone, and hear some intriguing stories of their time at college, and if they are able to support the college that’s an added bonus.  Not everyone realises how much money Trinity Hall needs to raise to continue supporting all of its students, and I personally think it’s something that current students need to be made aware of more. Many assume because we are already paying such high tuition fees then everything should be covered already! This isn’t the case and besides that, college needs to be able to better support its students that may struggle financially. I think that is the most important aim of the Telethon, to raise money for student support. I received a bursary in first and second year, so I know how essential they are for students who may otherwise struggle with money. College life here is so busy and demanding, if I had been worrying about money it would have detracted hugely from my experience. With the financial help of the college, we can instead focus on studying and making the most of our time at Trinity Hall through extra-curricular activities and the like. Since I received my bursary, the government has cut maintenance loans, so students need even more support! This issue really needs to be expressed to current and previous students alike, so that we can raise more support for the cause.

It’s been three years since I last took part in the Telethon, and it’s quite a nostalgic trip to look back over that time, from first year to fourth year at Trinity Hall. In first year a four year degree (with a year abroad as third year) seemed like it would last forever, of course it’s gone by so quickly. I spent my year abroad in Barcelona and Colombia, desperately trying to improve my Spanish but also just having an amazing time, enjoying a year off from studying and English weather. I’m always eager to talked to ex-MMLers about their years abroad and whether they went off again after they graduated. I’m currently torn between staying in the UK and getting a ‘proper’ job next year, or heading back to Europe for more ‘language practice’. I’m also interested in finding out from alumni what they think of postgraduate study, whether that’s something that has contributed to their career, or if they think it’s unnecessary. Any advice I get is much appreciated and I look forward to asking you about your careers and where life has taken you since your Tit Hall days!

Day One – Phoning for the future… +-

Ready to dial

Day One – Phoning for the future…

Following two days of training – starting with the ideal but elusive ‘perfect call’ and then covering all and any sticky situations that may arise – I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I wasn’t absolutely terrified to begin the actual calling! Although we had gone through many scenarios; practised and rehearsed many times; done multiple role-plays; repeated different versions of our written and prepared individualised scripts; learnt the overarching narrative framework…I was still a little nervous about speaking on the phone! Yet there was a part of me too, a tiny part, that also couldn’t wait to get started, that anticipated the putting-into-action all of the practise and training that we had gone through over the past 48 hours.

And so it was this, albeit small, part of me that I harnessed when going through the information for my first prospect. Carefully I read their notes, made my preparatory introduction and dialled their number, waiting with baited breath for an answer. But, alas, no answer came. A mixture of relief and frustration as I tried all other numbers but to similar futile attempt. No one was picking up. Undeterred I moved on, anticipating the next prospect in a similar manner. Yet, again, no luck! After six unanswered calls my nerves strangely seemed to dissipate as I frantically hoped for someone to pick up the phone!

Finally – yes – a voice on the other end! My call had been answered! A nice conversation followed, as I enjoyed talking to her about her year abroad in a patisserie in France, her current business and how it had evolved from her own experiences at Trinity Hall. Discussing Trinity Hall brought us together over the phone as we shared memories of June Events, undergraduate hobbies, friends, and the notorious ‘Vivas’ of Trinity Hall – now in a redesigned and updated bar and under a new name: ‘Crescent Room’. A pleasant conversation yet no donation in conclusion. However, I persisted, reinvigorated at having had a genuinely nice chat, and after a few more calls I hit gold in more ways than one!

My next answer was golden in both senses of the word: a lovely, shining and bright personality greeted me in friendly tones over the phone and concluded in a generous annual donation! Although the donation did boost my spirits considerable as the bottle of wine reached my table (!), it was the conversation that I enjoyed the most! A friendly recent graduate, coming back for his MA Celebration and Reunion this Saturday, shared all his memories and fond happy times at Trinity Hall with me. His involvement in sport, his year abroad, his anecdotal tales of breaking into Johns’s May Ball…making me laugh over the phone as I re-imagined the stories of his undergraduate days – not so long before my own!

It struck me how college memories can bring would-be strangers together, how sharing reminiscences over past university experiences through the mutual lens of college life can enable conversation over any medium and, not for the first time, I thought myself how lucky and privileged I am to be allowed to be a part of this wonderful and unique experience. That, partly, compelled me to take part in the Telethon campaign this year and will definitely motivate me moving forward to trickier calls and stickier situations – as well as pleasant experiences hopefully (!) – to come. Knowing that I am not only ‘phoning for the future’, to enable others to benefit as I have done, but also knowing that I am phoning for myself, phoning as a way to say ‘thank you’ for everything that I have benefitted from. For, although only one day on, the telethon has already enabled me to do this: to secure future aid and to say thank you for the wonderful experiences I have had so far and hope to continue to have here at Trinity Hall!

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