Most of us know what it’s like to come out of college and have a hard time getting employed. When you live in a country like mine where unemployment is rife and graduates are churned out in the thousands annually, you will find Job hunting difficult. Slowly heading to a point where being an undergraduate is not competitive advantage in the job market unless it’s a critical skill. Some like me may find themselves starting out in a call centre. It’s far from bad as a first job and it’s also far from good. Based on my personal experiences I’m going to share why the call centre is a great place to start your career.
I remember how months into post graduation I got a call for an interview with the largest mobile operator in my country. As any smart person would, I googled the job and the first thing i saw in most descriptions made me feel like it wasn’t for me. Most websites described it as a good job for High school graduates waiting to go to college. Here I was out of college and going to interview for the job. I felt somewhat insulted but hey, I needed a job. This may have also been related to the fact that I fancied myself fairly more intelligent than most people in any room I was placed in. Yes that wasn’t a good trait. I didn’t get the job that time (don’t make me tell you why) but I got it two years later after yes, another interview. I was smarter the next time, humble and focused on what I could bring not what I thought I was meant to be doing.
For a long time I always thought that it was the hardest place to get out of. I feared that I would be stuck there. Of course I loved helping people but I wasn’t sure that’s how I wanted to help them for the rest of my life. My time working there taught me that it wasn’t the train-smash I had anticipated. Actually, I learnt how to communicate better, think faster and how to take more shit before exploding.
The one biggest reason why the call centre is the best place to start is that You get to choose How you want to grow professionally! Let me tell you how:
- You get to interact with a lot people in the organisation – See, when you are in the call centre you are at the heart of the organisation. You’ll find yourself interacting with a lot of individuals from different departments. Picture this, you’re talking to people from support service departments to well as product owners and even executives. The nature of the call centre is that you will find yourself needing information from different places. It is in interacting with these different people that you get a chance to make your mark. Take every opportunity to show your skills and your areas of interest, you never know who will find your skill set desirable.
- You gain a lot of knowledge – Working in the call centre will force you to have extensive knowledge of different products (I had to know at least 15 different products in enough detail to provide a solution in the shortest time). You are also exposed to the workings and processes of your organisation. Being a great agent who deals with customers in a timely and efficient manner means you need to have all the information you need (and more) on your fingertips. Once you have extensive knowledge on different parts of the company as well as different products it becomes very easy to start carving your way forward. All you need to do is decide on the area you want to move to and focus your efforts there. Speak to the right people, volunteer with them if you can and they can easily envision you becoming a part of their team when the time comes.
- You Get to Improve Multiple Soft Skills. Soft skills are those personal attributes that we gain over time that enable us work and interact well with people around us. The call centre is one of those places where you are forced to learn multiple soft skills and hone them continuously. It’s also the perfect environment to stress test these skills (and best believe you will be stressed and trained). An article listing 6 core soft skills that you need and that employers look for gives:
Team work and collaboration,
These are all skills that are hardwired into you when you work in a call centre. You need all of them and more in that setting. When you leave to go elsewhere, these skills make you a wonderful acquisition.
Now your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to remember that:
1. Be humble (Kendrick Lamar is currently popular for telling us this),
2. Extensive knowledge is KING and
3. When they say “he got the job because he knew someone” they don’t mean an uncle. They mean work so that someone knows you from the unit you wanna go to. Its someone who has seen your work rate, seen your skill set and seen what you are interested in. Who knows? They may be on your next interview panel.
At the end of the day, the skills you learn in the call centre will not just propel you to a wonderful corporate career but, used right, will also give you a great entrepreneurial insights.