Lessons in Cold-Calling

by Natalie Grammer, FCLC ’21

Hi, my name is Natalie Grammer and I’m calling from the Hope for Depression Research Foundation. How are you? (wait for a response) Is there a manager or store owner I could speak with? (wait) I’m just reaching out to see if you would be interested in participating in our upcoming Week of Hope, a mental health awareness campaign, which culminates in our annual 5K Race of Hope on Sunday, August 4th 

These words, shakily spoken on my end of a landline telephone, left my mouth at least 506 times in the span of my first 50 hours of work this summer. The script became so ingrained in my brain that I didn’t have to reference my initial training document to write the above paragraph. When I started to write: “Hi, my name is,” the rest of the script just fell into place. 

This summer I interned at the Hope for Depression Research Foundation: a mental health nonprofit based in New York City. At the office, I spent the majority of my 10:00am-2:00pm shift cold-calling the small businesses of Southampton, NY. Southampton hosts HDRF’s biggest fundraising event of the summer: our annual 5K race. Prior to this one race, we put on a series of community engagement and awareness campaigns consolidated as the Week of Hope.  My job was to recruit stores and businesses on the main streets of the town to participate by agreeing to let HDRF place a large yellow “HOPE” balloon in front of individual storefronts. No donation was required to participate in this campaign; the town of Southampton had approved it, the balloons were eco-friendly, anchored down, and reusable, and we would set up and take down the balloon for participating businesses. While this may seem like a win-win situation (we get participation in an HDRF initiative, we spark a conversation about mental health through a visual marketing campaign, and businesses merely have to offer agreement to participate), the conversational dynamic of the cold call complicated my task. 

Not many business owners and managers like to be asked, unsolicited, unprepared, to participate in a non-profit campaign. Especially, not when they don’t immediately know that you, the cold caller, are not asking for money. Naturally, this led to a wide array of responses on the other end of the phone. From screaming at me that I didn’t want people to be able to afford their rent (again, I did not ask for donations), to laughing that they didn’t believe in depression, to enthusiastically agreeing to participate and thanking us as an organization for doing important work, I was constantly surprised by each unique response to the same set of words presented in the same way. 

Cold calling –– a term which I learned to expand to include pitching the non-profit and our events to Southampton locals in person –– if I may be so bold, dishabituated me to fear. No matter who I called, if I had called them before, what time of day I called, if I was interacting with someone on the phone or explaining the race in person, I never knew what a person’s reaction to me would be. I had to live in anticipation and not let it distract me from my goal: getting people to engage with Hope for Depression. 

Before this summer, I was terrified of making a phone call, not to mention calling a stranger to ask them for something. I couldn’t call people. It got to the point that if my takeout food delivery order got messed up, I would make my roommate call the restaurant. Now, I can call people. In fact, I offer to make a call when someone else won’t. This change may seem small, but cold calling helped me overcome a very real fear that I had. 

Both the Race and Week of Hope ended with participation and fundraising numbers that exceeded our goals. The Week saw a nearly 200% increase in business participation, and the Race saw over 750 participants attend and raised over $280,000. Even though I felt my heart race for half of the summer as I dialed a new number or walked into a new store, I can’t help but feel like my cold calling made a difference to the Race and to me.

*Click here for the second part of Natalie’s story.

Finding a Job/Finding Yourself

by Gillian Russo, FCLC ‘21

To borrow an extremely over-quoted line from Hamilton, “There’s nothing like summer in the city,” but I no longer have to take the musical’s word for it. I lived and worked here full-time for the first time this past summer, having landed an internship at Mood of Living magazine. The publication is an online platform focused on stories of sustainable companies in the food, travel, fashion, and lifestyle industries. The job of editorial interns such as myself is to write these feature stories, copy-edit others’ work, attend industry events, and do organizational tasks — we are interns after all.

I was interested in the internship as a means of building my portfolio and gaining writing experience on a topic that interests me. I’m particularly passionate about theatre journalism (if my journalism major and theatre minor are any indication), but I also thought I’d be happy with a job anywhere within the soft-news “lifestyle” sector, as opposed to politics or economics.

Now, I had a fruitful internship experience at MoL. I built a great network, which is all I could have asked of my first position in the city where I want to settle once I graduate. I learned a lot from working there: in addition to honing my editorial skills, I dabbled in social media management, marketing/business, and web development. I can now take all these skills, which I would not have gained from a strictly editorial internship, to future jobs. But one thing I learned stuck out to me above all: “lifestyle,” in the broadest sense, isn’t my thing.

Attending industry events and talking to professionals in all these different fields was enjoyable. In fact, going to trade shows and fashion expositions was one of my favorite parts of the job. But when I sat back down in the office to follow up with these home-furnishing and fashion and travel brands to potentially write about them, well… I realized I wasn’t as passionate about it as I thought. I went into this summer believing I’d be happy in any at-least-somewhat editorial job even if it had nothing to do with the arts, as long as it incorporated other cultural, lifestyle sectors like fashion, home, or travel. Now I’ve found it’s the other way around — I’d be open to different opportunities in the arts sector, even if they’re not strictly journalistic. I never thought I would be interested in development or social media or marketing before entering MoL. While none of those became my top interest, I found myself enjoying that work this summer, but I knew I’d enjoy it more if it pertained to a field I had more interest in.

In the summer course I took in conjunction with this job, my professor talked often about “doing what you are”: that is, figuring out your strengths, passions, and personality style, and taking them into account when searching for a position. I figured out a lot about who I am between the job, the class, and my other summer activities — one of which was continuing my ongoing gig as a show reviewer. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself. I don’t want to neglect opportunities that may present themselves. But I now have a better grasp of where I’d like to see myself going forward.

Sometimes you have to do what you aren’t to figure out what you are. I can’t say I fully know who I’m going to be yet. All I can say is that my vision got clearer thanks to my time at MoL, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. Who knows — maybe I’ll have to write about Broadway-inspired home decor someday, and I’ll be prepared.

Interning with ICE

by Anonymous

Since Homeland Security has been a popular topic of conversation as of late, you’ve probably heard a lot about the agency. That being said, have you ever wondered what it’s really like inside?

Well, as a current intern with the Department of Homeland Security, I can provide you with a bit of insight.

To start off, I’d like to give you a quick crash course on Homeland Security since you might not know too much about the agency and what it actually does.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began operations on March 1, 2003, making it a fairly new agency. The formation of the department was proposed in 2002 by President George W. Bush after the September 2001 terrorist attacks. The department was meant to unify multiple divisions that already existed within the federal government in an attempt to increase their overall efficacy (if you’re curious, here’s a list of the departments that were included: https://www.dhs.gov/who-joined-dhs).

22 different organizations ended up merging into DHS. To give you an idea of just how large that makes DHS, here’s a list of agencies that fall under the jurisdiction of the department:

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • United States Coast Guard (USCG)
  • United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)
  • United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • United States Secret Service (USSS)
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • Management Directorate
  • Science and Technology Directorate
  • Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office
  • Office of Intelligence and Analysis
  • Office of Operations Coordination

I’m currently interning with ICE. ICE is comprised of three main branches: Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which deals with matters involving immigration law; the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA), which deals with legal proceedings; and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which is the investigative branch within ICE that deals with “cross-border criminal activity.” My internship is with HSI. HSI was created in 2010, seven years after ICE was first formed, and they employ special agents, analysts, auditors, and a variety of other support positions. Below is a list of crimes handled by the department:

  • Financial crimes, money laundering and bulk cash smuggling;
  • Commercial fraud and intellectual property theft;
  • Cybercrimes (fun fact: sharing illegal online content is considered an international crime since, for all intents and purposes, the Internet is borderless);
  • Human rights violations;
  • Human smuggling and trafficking;
  • Immigration, document and benefit fraud;
  • Narcotics and weapons smuggling/trafficking;
  • Transnational gang activity;
  • Export enforcement; and,
  • International art and antiquity theft

As you can see, HSI does quite a lot.

To better deal with these various crimes, HSI is divided into a number of divisions. Again, to show you just how large HSI is, here is the list of divisions and their descriptions given by the Homeland Security website:

  • Domestic Operations oversees all investigative activities of HSI’s domestic field offices
  • HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center conducts investigations related to intellectual property theft. It also combats trade practices that threaten the global economy
  • International Operations oversees HSI attaché offices and builds relationships with foreign law enforcement partners
  • Investigative Programs conducts operations in areas including cybercrime, financial and narcotics violations, transnational crime and public safety. It also supports law enforcement partners through training, technical assistance, computer forensic analysis and forensic services
  • Mission Support provides budgetary and financial services to all of HSI. It also provides information technology, human capital and record management support 
  • National Security Investigations investigates vulnerabilities in the nation’s borders. It also works to prevents acts of terrorism 
  • Office of Intelligence conducts broad intelligence operations. It also develops data for use by ICE, the Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement partners 
  • Operational Technology and Cyber Division (OTCD) oversees initiatives that combine information sharing and technology across the Department of Homeland Security. It also oversees technical and business-related activities carried out by HSI

Beyond this, HSI is then further divided into various units. One of the most interesting and, quite frankly, surprising ones I learned about was the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit (CEIU). The CEIU, as the name suggests, deals with matters involving pedophilia and the exploitation of children. The people assigned to this unit deal with crimes involving child pornography, child sex tourism, and child sex trafficking, and they work in tandem with other agencies and organizations to save the children involved in these crimes and apprehend the criminals taking part in them.

It makes sense why crimes like this would fall to the Department of Homeland Security and ICE. But after all the immigration news of late, it’s easy to forget just how varied the matters that the department deals with are. And while this is hardly a comprehensive list of everything DHS does, I do hope I was able to provide some helpful information on the subject and that you leave with a more in-depth understanding of the Department of Homeland Security and the agency’s role in the government.


All the above information was taken from the Department of Homeland Security website: https://www.dhs.gov/