Early 2005, it was my first step to independence. It was a
chance of a lifetime and the greatest learning experience. At twenty-two, I
felt senile because I still could not do things on my own. Everything I did
involved a series of permissions and approvals before I could accomplish
anything. I might have traveled to the ends of the Earth but still I was
chasing a dream. I needed to be on my own — to live and to learn.
Then I decided to climb the corporate ladder, just to see
what it is like to actually live in a real
world. To experience frustrations and pressures, and to feel needed and given
importance because of my skills. At the same time, be well compensated for my
I knew I was born to be a call girl.
No, not that type of profession. I am not into cheap
thrills, nor am I morally-challenged. I am talking about the biggest thing that
hit the corporate world. These are the global business process outsourcing of
foreign countries, more commonly known as the call center industry. And yes,
they pay big – like 5-digit BIG. Of course, you have to be extra-competent to
work in such business considering how tough it gets when you’re actually
working in operations.
The first thing one needs to pass are the exams. Some
companies give painstaking examinations just to get the cream of the crop. Personally,
I think one should be worth the training cost that the employers have to spend.
Then the learning process begins. Once you are in, it is a different world.
Forget being conventional, forget being a conformist, because from this moment
on, you will be your own person. Since most companies are run by Americans, the
culture starts to seep in. No more judging at people by how they look or what
their social status is (as most Filipinos do!). I mean, the third sex are even
the top producers.
Depending on what company, the most common expertise of a
call center agent (that one can actually brag about) is amongst being an expert
troubleshooter at computers, a well-versed international travel consultant, a
professional interviewer or a publishing specialist for book authors. Before
you can become one of those, you have to undergo training – learning includes
ethics, customer care, and people skills.
The best thing in there is that you get to polish your
English accent, as well as your conversational skills, for free. You go to a
restaurant and order your food. Then you overhear a bunch of guys talking
behind you, and you are afraid to turn your back because you are imagining a
couple of 6-foot Caucasian men who might try to start a conversation with you.
Much to your chagrin, it is only a group of bisdaks
dressed in very weird outfits wearing jackets even if it is a scorching 36°C
outside. I still wonder why people dress so eccentrically at the call centers.
Maybe because there is too much freedom of expression exercised at work. I
remember going to work on my pajamas! Since I worked graveyard, I am more
comfortable wearing that at night. I mean, nobody cares. Eventually, you will
be wrapped in a thick sweater or blanket as soon as you are on a call. The air
conditioners run full blast all day and night, never higher than 18ºC. They are
for the computers, not for you. Take note, most call centers operate 24/7.
exploit company resources – such as unlimited
internet downloads at T1 speed! But be careful and make sure that your
supervisors are on your side, or you will simply get fired. It is a great
advantage if you can type fast, like verbatim as dictated, or hear things as
clear as daylight. Things will be so much easier. You will get more incentives,
be more productive, and finish jobs faster. So you might want to start watching
a lot of dialogue-type American movies if you are interested in becoming an
expert at eponyms, slangs, and idiomatic expressions. In the long run, you will
be speaking English as though it is your native tongue. Then you start enjoying
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno or laugh with Conan O’brien as he jokes about U.S. politics
on cable television.
Consider yourself lucky if you do not turn into a heavily caffeinated
smoker after a few weeks. A warm cup of coffee and a stick of cigarette will be
your best buds after you get yelled at by an angry costumer or if you get
cursed by an idiot who does not want your help. Oh yes, you hear the F-word too
often! One of the reasons why the job is so not for irate and temperamental
people, which reminds me of how my good friend, Patrick Ceniza, handles his
calls. He has a lot of nerve; on the contrary, he knows how to take care of an
angry client. Which goes the same way for two of the best writers I know (who
also wrote for EV Mail), and is currently working at the call centers, Angelo
Kangleon and Kenneth Enecio. Trust me, there is no such thing as a gender
issue. Say what?
If you want to earn much more money legally and at the same
time have a blast absorbing all new information about the world we live in, start
surfing the Net, search for call center agent openings and apply online. Hey,
it worked for me!