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This is Edinburgh calling

Current student telephone campaign caller Joseph tells us why his part time job has enhanced his student experience rather than distracted him from his studies.

Joseph McAulay

Joseph McAulay is currently a 4th year law student with a keen interest in the performing arts. In between work and his degree he can be found performing and directing at Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh’s student-run performance space and home of the Edinburgh University Theatre Company.

Working on campus

As with many students, Joseph supplements his student loan with income from part time work but, unlike many of his contemporaries, this doesn’t involve time standing behind a bar, waiting tables or stacking supermarket shelves. Instead he heads to Charles Stewart House on Chambers Street and the part time headquarters of the Edinburgh student telephone campaign team.

Each year, during evenings and weekends, the team call graduates to update them on developments at the University, seek their feedback on events and communications, compare notes on student life, and ask them to consider supporting the University with a donation.

It is this final aspect of the role that caught Joseph’s eye when the job was advertised. The chance to generate income to support other students seemed infinitely more meaningful than other job opportunities that he was considering at the time.  

I wanted to contribute, in any way I could, to the institution that gave me so much in regards to my degree and student experience, and to help others gain that same type of education and experience.

Joseph McAulay

Talking about impact

Last year our students had over 15,000 conversations with alumni and raised over £361,000 for student support and pioneering projects.

The Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme and Innovation Initiative Grants enable students and staff to test ideas, initiate projects and invest in equipment and facilities. Both schemes are funded entirely through contributions to the Edinburgh Fund and both feature heavily in discussions that our student callers have with graduates who are keen to know more about the impact of donations.

Even though all of our callers are well trained and aware of the success of previous calling campaigns, the first evening on the telephone can be a daunting experience. Joseph’s experience with the theatre company helped to alleviate opening night nerves but he was still apprehensive about making that first call.

I wasn't nervous, but I was a little bit apprehensive because I'd never done a job dealing with the public like that before and I was also nervous that I was going to offend someone. The minute I started I was fine, and got into the rhythm of it.

Joseph McAulay

Advice for life

Being on the telephone campaign team also provides our students with a different perspective on university life. It involves them in conversations about heritage and conservation, higher education policy, research funding and technological change.

As someone considering a career within higher education, Joseph find the insights of graduates a valuable addition to his student experience.

I've always wanted to become an academic, ever since I was young, and now, having called and raised money for research, I now understand just how difficult it can be to get funding for further study, and I will never, in the future, take that for granted.

Joseph McAulay

A conversation to remember

There are lots of reasons why the student telephone campaign is a good thing but linking the past to the present remains at the heart of why it is so successful, and is often what makes a lasting impression on our student callers.

Every year we call European alumni, and I spoke to a woman in her 70s who had met her husband at Edinburgh before emigrating to Sweden. She told me that her life and experiences at Edinburgh had helped shape the way she viewed the world and helped her to lead an incredibly rich life. We ended up talking for an hour on the phone, and I felt like that was a time I made a very real, very strong, genuine connection with someone. That was over a year ago now and I still remember that conversation like it was yesterday.

Joseph McAulay

Related links

The Edinburgh Fund