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Hey Jamaica, Here’s What Being In A Call Centre Is Actually Like

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What It's Really Like To Work In A Call Centre

The BPO industry is a rapidly growing source of employment for many young Jamaicans. But do you really know what it’s like to work in one?

“Business process outsourcing, or BPO, is a business practice in which one organization hires another company to perform a process task that the hiring organization requires for its own business to operate successfully” (searchio.target.com).


Why People Choose To Work At Call Centres

In a Gleaner article dated 2018, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that “more than 30,000 people are employed directly in the sector.” He also added there is the potential to do more.

This is true, there’s room for more growth within the industry. And sadly that’s all because there aren’t many other job opportunities in the country to begin with.

And let’s not ignore the fact that the popularity of opportunities in these call centers is dependent on people’s inability to find decent jobs that don’t hit them with request for unreasonable qualifications and 10+ years of work experience in a similar field. It also hones in on the innate human need of self-preservation and desire to be a productive member of society.

No wonder so many people flock these jobs.


Who Exactly Works At Call Centres?

The age of these individuals ranges from 18 years to 26 years, and in some cases even older.

I’ve seen firsthand the melting pot of individuals in a call center environment, along with the various circumstances that bring them into this space.

You have recent high school graduates, who can’t afford to further their education, coming to these centers to earn and save some money in order to achieve that next step.

Then you have the recent college graduates (like me) who are having a hard time getting a job in the field that we spent 3-4 years studying for, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in our apparently failed attempt at securing the bag in our preferred industry.

The reality is that we are not all fortunate enough to pick up our dream job right away. And with adult responsibilities so quickly thrust upon us, not to mention the mountain of student loan debt, one of our only options is naturally a call center.

Then, of course, there’s another set of persons:  young mothers who really need this opportunity to provide for their child/children. Of all the people working in a call center, I think I admire their tenacity the most.  They are strong and push harder than most of us because they have a whole lot more to lose.

You have many other groups of people present but we can keep these groups in mind for now.

Also, let me be clear: I am not a fan of call centres and until recently, where circumstances beyond my control led me to start working at one, I would have never considered working there.

That said they do still provide some people with a foot in the door of the work force. And while the conditions may not always be ideal, at least it’s something, right?


What About The Working Conditions

Now that I’ve mentioned the word “conditions,” let’s talk about a few I have observed and that maybe others have observed as well.

There is the lack of physical space to put all the new hires, with lunch rooms fighting with the locker rooms for breathing room.

Then, the amount of work done is not nearly equal to the compensation that is given for it.

Next up there’s the limited room for upward mobility, unless you know someone who knows someone.

Let’s not forget being treated as a number, and not a person.

And of course, my all-time favourite, the major health risks due to stress from the job.

And please don’t get me started on the improper sanitation.


Here’s My Conclusion About Call Centre Life…

I mean, I do understand that jobs don’t come around every day, but at the same time shouldn’t the ones we have access to meet certain requirements? Shouldn’t we be able to work in an environment that’s both challenging and comfortable? Shouldn’t we be able to share our ideas on improving the quality of the company and circumstances under which we work?

Until you’ve experienced working in a call centre firsthand you won’t be able to fully grasp the concept of what goes on behind the scenes of those flashy ads on social media. All the interview parties in the world can’t compare to what you actually face when you enter the actual space.


At the risk of not sounding too biased, please feel free to share the experiences you’ve had at a call center. If they’re similar to mine, that’s great. Also if you are considering entering a call center don’t be deterred. Everyone has a different experience, and this was mine.

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The reality of job hunting for today’s university graduates

Final year is done and it’s time to go into the world of work and start job hunting in your respective field of study.

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Job hunting for university graduates (Landscape) -The Massive Jamaica

Finally! The last semester of final year is done and it’s time to go into the world of work. You get your resume done and start job hunting in your respective field of study. 

But then your spirit starts to sink as you realize a month passes with no responses. Two months, three months, a year and still no responses. 

You might be wondering what you did wrong? Your resume is great – I mean you probably even got it revamped by a professional. You graduated with honours. So what’s the problem? 

These are all feelings I’m all too familiar with. This is the sad and sometimes depressing reality of job hunting for university graduates today.


Job hunting can get really discouraging

Terri-Karelle, in a video posted on her instagram page, highlighted the struggles of job hunting for young people. 

“Sometimes you do everything right, sometimes you get the grades, sometimes you have the qualifications but there is no job offer. You do the interviews but you still don’t land the job.” 

The entire process can get very discouraging. Sending out multiple resumes, dressing up for interviews only to be declined is exhausting, to say the least. It can also take a toll on your mental health. Thoughts of sadness and failure rushing through your mind are enough to drive you insane.

Sometimes when you look and see that all your friends are getting jobs and you’re the only one in the lot still struggling to find work, it hurts. You end up feeling discouraged, thinking maybe you’re the problem.


Your lack of work experience and age can be barriers to landing jobs

It is no secret that the requirement for years of experience is a major hindrance to graduates fresh out of university. Many companies require that their prospective employees have three or more years of experience in order to qualify for any job. 

The reality is that many graduates leave school without having any work experience. Because they were juggling school and extracurricular activities, most graduates simply didn’t have the time to gain relevant work experience. Some may have done internships but most times this isn’t enough for some employers.

On the other hand some companies flat out reject applicants because of their age. The applicant may meet all the qualifications necessary to land that job but because they’re “too young” they are rejected. 

According to them your youth renders you unable to effectively carry out the required task of the job. Forget about the fact that most times these are entry level jobs which are best done by the very young people that are getting rejected. And what’s funny is that these employers are usually strong “advocates” for youth development.


So, what do you do?

In the same video Terri-Karelle later asked “What do you now do? How have you developed yourself?” 

The reality is that while job hunting is discouraging and depressing you shouldn’t give up. It’s in this seemingly dark and low point in your life that the perfect moments to work on yourself appear. 

Take the time to learn a new skill, language, or enhance talents you already have. There are quite a few platforms that provide all the resources you need to develop yourself – like Linkedin, Skillshare, Udemy, Google and good old Youtube.

You can’t throw your hands in the air and vow to never apply for another job. Not now. Not when you’re so close. Continue to press for jobs, even the ones it looks like you aren’t qualified for. Just keep pushing.


For more of The Massive Jamaica be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

If you like our articles and want to contribute some yourself, apply to our Contributing Writer Programme and tell your stories!

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