A Testament to working on Campus: ND Listens

Author: Patrick Smart

Patrick Smart Headshot

It is fairly common for students at Notre Dame to have a job while they live on campus. For me, in addition to working in the digital media branch of the ND Admissions department, I am a phone caller for Notre Dame’s Development office in an organization known as ND Listens. ND Listens is a student engagement group on campus that calls alumni, parents, friends and other members of the Notre Dame community. These calls could be just to wish Alumni a Happy Birthday, thank a parent for a gift to the University, or just check in to see how a retired faculty member is doing. Unlike many other college phone calling centers, we at ND listens never ask Alumni for money. Rather, we seek to make a genuine connection with the greater Notre Dame community by having honest conversations (some even that can last hours on end). As a University that prides itself on maintaining a strong alumni network and strong relationships with alumni, ND Listens is a true testament to how an education from Notre Dame is not just for four years; it’s for forty. 

From the perspective of a student caller, my work at ND Listens has been one of the most formative experiences of my time at Notre Dame. For 6 hours every week, I am able to meet and talk with incredible members of the Notre Dame family who have lived all sorts of lives: mayors of small towns during COVID, military fighter pilots and engineers, and even an early winner of my dorm Fisher Hall’s annual Fisher regatta. In many of my calls, Notre Dame Alumni, extending back even to the 1960s, are more than happy to share their funniest Notre Dame stories, from filling up a friend's room with trash from across campus or sneaking off campus after curfew. These stories connect me with Notre Dame’s storied history and have shown me that despite so much change on campus, so much of the Notre Dame experience has stayed the same over time. In one of my most memorable calls, I called a Notre Dame alum who was alone during September 2022’s Hurricane Ian. While, over the course of our conversation, her power went out and strong winds blew against her windows, I was more than happy to keep her company and let her know that she was not alone. 

Outside of my calling, another one of the benefits of my work at ND Listen is how amazing my fellow callers are. Each shift starts with a “Scrum,” where we warm up for calls by answering a “hot-take question” of the day. These questions could be anything from “What’s your biggest red flag?” to “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you in the past 24 hours?” Hearing my coworkers’ interesting and, more often than not, hilarious answers to these questions never ceases to make my day and get me excited to get to work. 

Although working an on-campus job might not seem like the most glorious or exciting aspect of a college experience, my time at ND Listens has genuinely transformed my perspective on Notre Dame and made me so grateful to be a member of the Notre Dame community. I would highly recommend this job to any students on campus looking for a great way to improve their communication skills and looking to have fun while working!

Nd Listens