Monday, August 16, 2010

How I spent my summer vacation

This summer, I decided to do something a little different. Real estate has been challenging in these poor economic times. While I have good success with cold calling for business, I really hate it. Referrals have been down, so I just haven't had too much going on. I decided to take on a temporary summer job with the 2010 census.

I was part of the Coverage Followup Operation. Several million households needed a followup phone call. Sometimes it was because they had a large household, and demographics weren't captured for all household members. Sometimes it was because there was a child custody situation. Other times, it was because the data entry process missed or made errors with the information.

I found it hugely ironic that I took this job because I didn't want to make cold calls with real estate. I suddenly found myself cold calling people for 20-25 hours per week. It was a heavily scripted call, and if I didn't read the script verbatim, and was caught not reading it verbatim 3 times, I was fired. Considering they monitored several phone calls a day, odds of getting caught if you weren't doing what you were supposed to was high. I often felt ridiculous asking questions of people that they had just answered, or that the answers were painfully obvious. I asked 91 year old women if they had any newborns or babies. I asked apartments full of 20 year old college men if they had foster children. I asked an 85 year old vet if he'd been gone serving in the military on Apr. 1. I asked a blind, bed ridden woman if she had a vacation home. I asked a man with an obvious man voice/name if he was male or female.

The vast majority of the people I spoke to were, at best, annoyed. There were a few nice people I spoke to, but they were the exception, not the rule. Half the people thought I was incredibly stupid, or just not listening. The other half thought that I thought *THEY* were stupid, or trying to conceal something.

I worked with some really great people, and made some wonderful friends as a result, so I can't say the whole summer was a waste. I can easily say it was the toughest, most hated job I've ever had. And given my varied career experience, that is really saying anything. Sample of nasty, microwaved nachos, anyone?

I made enough money to replace the roof on our house, and buy a back seat with roll cage for our rhino atv. However, if I'd made a few cold calls on my own, without having to use a script, and made one big real estate transaction, I would've made the same money.

The project ended on August 14th. Well, I'm not sure if the census is done with the coverage followup, but my part in it ended on that date. I swear, it's better than I remember the last day of school being! I'm still somewhat giddy with all the freedom that I have before me.

I am hoping I've learned from this experience, and will put forth more effort in prospecting in real estate.

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