Performing Identity At The Phonathon Essay

Performing Identity At The Phonathon Essay

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Performing Identity at the Phonathon
In August 2013, when I first I arrived at Duke, I was trying to find a job that would teach me new skills. I was interested in a job that would enable me to step out of my comfort zone, and would force me to grow and gain experience in a professional environment. One day I received an email for job opportunities at the Duke University Annual Fund. The position offered was as a Student Caller for the Phonathon. Student callers are the ones responsible for contacting Duke alumni. They play an important role in increasing participation among alumni and parents, while also establishing connections with those are not able to come back to campus (dukeforward.com). The job seemed easy, and as described on the Annual Fund website I would be able to “obtain professional training for sales, marketing and public relations” (dukeforward.com). The responsibilities: sit on a chair, dial some numbers, and ask people at the other end of the phone for money. However, things were not as simple as they originally seemed. The job requires a certain level of performance of personalities, and those aspects would cause me to challenge my own perception of identity. I was forced to take on personalities and behaviors that were not my own, and I felt that in a way I was embodying a fake identity. Such behaviors initially felt uncomfortable and insincere. But with time, the uneasiness of performing different behaviors and identities disappeared, and I started to adopt certain behaviors that in the past I would have considered not my own. My personality was changing and I was unsure whether I had become a different person, or I was still being myself. The experiences I had at the job sparked the interest in the idea of ...


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...ller work, or the “stage” in which they perform, plays an important role in creating the perfect environment for the performance. When I first started working at the Phonathon, the call center consisted of long tables around the four walls of the room. Each caller would face a wall, and there was not wall separating computers or workspace for every caller. The space was open, with a table in the middle of the room where the supervisors would sit. The openness of the space was intimidating. Callers at that time felt that the openness of the space caused them to be more aware of their behaviors and actions while on the phone. In a sense, the openness of the space would function as a limiting factor for the development of personalities and the reiteration of behaviors. Personally, I felt the proximity to the next caller, and the fact that they could directly look at me,

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