Halo Cold Room!

Two weeks ago I had interview at home but I felt the odds were against me. Besides the nerves getting in the way, there’s also quality of my Skype making things worse.

I was expecting a video call but thankfully it didn’t happen so mid-call I unbuttoned my long-sleeve polo shirt, ditched the crappy in-ear headphones and swapped it with an Xbox headset that made me hear the interview questions better albeit too late. It felt like I was in one of Marcus’ online games and my chances of winning were already slim.

I know both attendees who were in that Skype meeting but I didn’t see myself being contacted by them–my previous bosses–any further. I also had a hint who the other applicant was and he’s got potentials so I didn’t set my hopes that high.

But all is not lost–I heard from them again. I got picked, I’m in.

Early part of last year was also when I got accepted for a supervisory position coming from my role as an individual contributor. What’s interesting is, I realized, my personal folder shows I saved my resume for team leader trainee application exactly the same date when I’d write my application for QA supervisor–both happened on January 15. I’m becoming a fan of coincidences more.

My current team is still clueless but they will soon learn about me leaving them. Whatever their feelings are about this change–I’m sure there will be happy-that-he-left-us sentiments–I will miss them as I am starting to see these agents become more confident and performing almost on par with the big boys. Good luck to you guys, see you around. And for me, it’s back to the comfy cold room.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Inspiration to step up all started in Work At A Pizza Place game of Marcus.)

At The Other End Of The Line

Newbie outbound agent’s life.

 

Who says D) All of the above?

 

 

***

I am among those who like posters and typography. I love looking at menu artworks especially that of Starbucks which is one way of being seen in front of the store without having to spend a cent. I am also interested in corporate photography that are used in slide presentations–usually compensates for boring lectures. All these, however, require tools to accomplish which is the reason my ideas remain inside my head. I can’t buy the software, I can’t buy the camera.

Fortunately, I finally found time to check out Canva.com which offers an online tool for anyone who has a poster idea. The website has a range of layouts and a number of typefaces to go along with each design. The poster above is my first creation using its free service. I need a back office job.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Next stop, find a tarpaulin to place the house on sale.)

The Big Boss Viewed My Blog

Some of us have probably read by now a number of articles about bosses, recruiters, or interviewers who are now using social media footprints to learn more about an employee or an applicant. But how many of us know someone who has experienced this, or, more awkwardly, see their own blog being opened right in front of them, in a cubicle, by their own boss. Guess what, it happened to me.

In my attempt to participate in other company activities I applied to be a part of a group involved in employee engagement. One of the qualifications is for one to be creative and during the interview I mentioned that I can write and in fact I have a blog. And as if under hypnosis, I soon found myself staring at our manager’s desktop as he types marcuscanblog.com on his internet browser’s URL address field.  For the very first time, I was browsing my blog site alongside someone whose impression of it could make or break my quest to be part of a new challenge. Well, I’ll know soon.

***

After the interview, I tried to recall if my current blog still contains posts that are relevant to the call center industry as I accidentally wiped out years worth of blog posts just last year. Thanks to Feedfabrik I was able to save more than a thousand pages of post since I started in 2006. And as I approach my second year in the industry, I will try to re-post those under the call center tag so please do drop by every now and then to read my archives. Yes, including you boss.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Laundry’s drying, done running–again, and now channel surfing. Will see wifey and Marcus later.)

Ideas from Sleep Deprivation

I have been deprived of sleep lately and the place I am supposed to catch up on it doesn’t live up to my expectations. And so to make sleeping quarters a more conducive place I call upon the geniuses of this world to invent these things:

Silent plastic bags. The call to recycle has its own drawback as people reuse plastic bags not just for groceries or shopping but also to store personal stuffs and among the things that annoy me is the ruckus a plastic bag creates when someone opens and searches something in it while inside the dim sleeping quarters. Every time it happens I begin to have nightmares even before I hit REM. (I am sure moviegoers will love this as well.)

Zip-free zippers. I know that it is an onomatopoeia of the sound it makes whenever it is closed or opened but I guess it is high time that manufacturers, like the famous and enduring YKK, make one that is zip-free. But for now, the closest thing I can do is suggest to ban people from opening and closing their gym bags while inside the sleeping area or resort to the costly approach of finding and distributing a copy of little Ms. Manners for Dummies book.

Glow-in-the-dark socks. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending precious time figuring out where that certain stink is coming from. A pair of socks therefore that would glow in the dark if it detects some fungal activity would at least warn others to pick a better sleeping spot.

Anti-snore spray. Nope, this isn’t one in the market that a person buys to cure his(her) own s leeping disorder. What I want is something like a pepper spray — yes, one that can be discreetly aimed and sprayed from a distance to someone who is snoring. A mounted laser aiming device would be a plus.

Slow door closers and fixtures. Shh. I am aware that these exist but one company seems not to know yet. Again, shhh.

***
I drafted this post using my myphone with alphanumeric keypads. One that produces a crisp sound. Annoying sound. While inside the sleeping quarters. So I guess, I have gotten even then. Ti abi.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Past 1 in the morning. Marcus and I still awake.)

English is an Egg-citing Language

Ernie Zarate’s book once again came handy. I still consider his Malictionary, which has been inside my blue laptop sling bag for quite a while, as a practical reference (and entertainment) to most frequently (ab)used English words.

While figuring out what to do this afternoon, one of the words in this small yellow paperback led to me to open our thick dictionary to see if this architect-turned-broadcaster’s pronunciation guide is correct for the English words starting with ‘ex.’

In his book that was published in 2005, Mr. Zarate wrote that even some broadcasters have repeatedly mispronounced the word exercise (during the past Balikatan exercises) by saying it as ‘EGS uhr sighs’—he made his own easy pronunciation guide for the benefit of his readers. The book also states that it is common for most Filipinos to do the same thing with words ‘exciting’ and ‘except’—that is, pronouncing ‘ex’ as ‘EGS.’

Pronouncing the letter “x” as “gz” or “gs” may be alright if the accent was on the second, third or fourth syllable as in “exalt or exaltation (ig ZOLT, igzol TEI shun) or as in “examine or examination” (ig ZAH min, ig zah mi NEI shun)”, Mr. Zarate explains. But his explanation wasn’t completely absorbed by the soft stuff inside my head.

Our Merriam-Webster dictionary then comes to the rescue. After flipping back and forth through its pages where the ‘ex’ words are, I eventually recognized the pattern. I discovered that if the ‘ex’ is followed by a vowel or a silent ‘h’, it is then likelythat either ‘ig’ or ‘eg’ applies such as in the following words: exact (ig’ zakt), exam (ig’ zam), executive (ig ze k(y)u tiv), exist (ig zist), exit (eg zit), exile (eg zil), exotic (ig za tik), and exuberant (ig zu be rant).

Meanwhile, most ‘ex’ words followed by a consonant use either ‘ik’ or ‘ek’ such as that in excel, exciting, exclusive, and excuse. At this point, it is already clear that the famous noodle commercial that introduced the word EGG-citing is catchy but wrong thus should never be used in normal and, especially, in formal conversations.

However, as this is just my general observation, it apparently still pays to continue reading and learning from reliable sources and not just believe anything that popular media feed us. This is also to say that writing English is one, articulating or pronouncing it is another.

***

Incidentally, a couple of hours after learning all about these things, I was called by two separate call center companies. I’ll be in for an interview tomorrow somewhere in Laguna.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Phone calls from HR personnel are always egg-citing.)

Outsourcing in the Business Process Outsourcing industry

It cannot be denied that outsourcing has become the key to the survival and competitiveness of most businesses. In my quest to be part of the call center industry, I discovered yesterday that even the business process outsourcing providers have resorted to such practice–outsourcing.

One of the tweets I marked as favorite, a couple of weeks ago, was from a job posting company. The tweet states, ”Call center agents with high salary. Accepting fresh grads!–People Solutions.” Upon clicking its link, a more detailed and attractive proposal comes up: “We are offering a salary package of PhP 20000 to PhP 30000 to applicants who will successfully pass our one-day hiring process.” Despite having some doubts on the veracity of the salary package, I sent my resume nevertheless–any bum would be compelled to try anyway. Less than a week later I received an SMS. They want to interview me.

The appointment date came but my excitement ebbed as soon as I reached the venue. Having applied in two different call centers in the past, I was expecting to find another setting with carpeted floor, cozy and professional-looking reception area, and well-dressed customer service agents frequenting the free coffee machine. Sadly, on the contrary, I arrived at a building that looks anything but corporate – unless cost-cutting measures have made monobloc chairs an acceptable fixture in BPO offices.

It’s a good thing, however, that the disposition of the account manager who faced us somehow made up for the bland appearance of their headquarters. Interestingly, we (applicants) soon learned from her that after the brief orientation and group discussion, hiring personnel from different call center companies will soon come over to interview us further.

It became clear that People Solutions is after all outsourced by other BPOs to recruit potential agents like us. The young and bubbly personnel explained that she holds four accounts but stressed that they are not a recruitment agency which charges a fee to any of its applicants. At least.

In the evening, I was on my way to being hired by a second company. Unlike Convergys, I passed the initial interview, quiz, typing test, and the Versant. After about eight hours inside the cybermall, I finally reached the final interviewer who seems to make me so aware that the position, customer service representative, I am applying for is an entry level job which could make my past work experience and education meaningless.

Sensing her disbelief that someone with 15 years of diverse experience in the semiconductor industry, not to mention having recently completed an MBA study, will apply for such job, I explained to her my reasons and long term plans in the call center industry–that the requirements of most BPOs for team leads have changed, that the fundamentals of the business start with CSR/TSR, that I am envisioning myself stepping up in the near future, etcetera. But quite frankly, in the back of my mind, my courage to be firm with my answers is due to the fact that I’m still thinking about the Php 20000 to Php 30000 salary offer as seen from the JobsDB.com ad. Minutes later, the thought bubble bursts big time.

The Teleperformance personnel was shocked when I told her about my expected salary. She said that I’ll be disappointed to know that I can only receive half of it and that the signing bonus indicated on the job posting doesn’t apply to them. I was floored.

Sensing my frustration, she advised me to reconsider the offer and be back within a month or else I have to re-do the whole process again which means staying there for another eight hours along with other CSR hopefuls. Let’s see. So close yet so far.

***
Mood: 3/10 Honks! (I’m expecting another call tonight.)

Ending work on a Monday

“Tell me why I don’t like Mondays” – Bob Gelfof and Johnny Fingers

“I hate Mondays” – Garfield

Yesterday was the weirdest Monday that I can recall so far. The following are the reasons why:

On my way to work the discussion over the radio was about an episode of the Oprah show where she approved of her guest’s suggestion of introducing teenage girls to vibrators-–and to mention that several Filipina girls called agreeing to the idea.

***

The parking lot was already full when I arrived. If my memory serves me right, it’s been months since it has become one of the most deserted places in our company. For a moment I actually thought that our company isn’t closing after all. Wishful thinking.

***

I am starting my first day of the week listening to one of my most hated things to do: selling (outbound call center account) but for some weird reasons I ended up enjoying the simulation activity. Isn’t that great? So does this mean that I might have the potential to sell?

***

Lastly, after reading one farewell email coming after the other, it has finally dawned on me that this is my last week at work, together with other identified employees. It now feels I’m starting to be sucked into the deep void of the bumhood’s black hole and conceding to the fact that this is really it, I had to excuse myself from our call center training just to compose my own farewell message.

Here’s what I wrote in haste:

Friends and co-workers,

This is my last week at and I’d like to say the following: Thank you, Sorry and Goodbye.

Thanks. For the wonderful years I had with every people I work with.Thanks to my past and present mentors, colleagues and subordinates. Rest assured that every encounter I had with each and every one of you gave me experience and knowledge, and it has made me a better person than I was years ago. Of course, I would like to thank my very recent group who welcomed me like I was already one of the experienced engineers—I really appreciate it. Thanks for the opportunity.

Sorry. I apologize to those whom I might have offended in one way or the other; it’s just some times the word constructive doesn’t come together with confrontation. And while I’m at it I’d like to say to those who have offended me (or at least they thought so) as well that I won’t be leaving with any hard feelings.

Goodbye. I’d like to say goodbye those who are yet to leave—whether they like it or not. And lastly, I’d like to say good luck to everyone whether you’re continuing to Vietnam or be pursuing a different life after Intel.

Keep in touch. See you around folks.

Although I hate the fact that it isn’t a resignation letter (I haven’t written one in my entire career), I sent it out of course to almost everyone I’ve worked with; but like one lit up fuse flickering slowly towards a barrel of explosives, I became somewhat sentimental about the whole thing only when I was on my way home.

All of a sudden I find it ironic that at the start of this week is the beginning of the end of the long years working for what I’ve known as a great place to work. Hasta la vista Intel folks.

***

I have figured out later in the day that the reason why the parking lot was full is because some of my co-workers are already processing their clearances and some brought their car along with them. There is also a job opportunity expo participated by a number of companies and probably the representatives parked their vehicles ahead of some of the employees like me. This is one thing that will be missed by most because if there’s one company that doesn’t have reserved parking slots, it would be Intel. It is only here that ”sorry boss, you’re late…go park somewhere” applies.

***

The sight and feel of yesterday’s job opportunity expo was unexpectedly great – maybe because there isn’t much crowd unlike in the malls. The   participating companies range from several business franchisors to cater to those who have finally decided to be entrepreneurs; the ever familiar semiconductors were also present for those who haven’t gotten enough of the manufacturing environment; and of course there were call center companies which lately have become one of my interests. Well, isn’t that great?

***

Mood: 4/10 Honks!

Relearning English the Call Center Way

In my quest to learn English I started attending a call center training that will go on for one week. Although I prepared myself to be corrected, all that mind setting did little to help suppress the shock I got the moment I heard our trainer speak. I haven’t heard such good and fluent English spoken in person for a long while.

The fluency of our trainer got me humbled and speechless. It made me feel that I was totally ignorant of this language the whole time and this may be because even if I have been blogging a lot for a couple of years already, I never had regular English conversation and if ever I had such chance to speak with someone at work, the quality did not come any near to what I am hearing inside this class. I am not saying that there is none in our current company who can speak English impressively but it is just that there is a very big difference compared with the call center standard. And it has something to do with what is called the “American thwang.”

According to our trainer, learning the American accent or pronunciation—funny that even this word is hard to pronounce—will be the majority of our training on top of my favorite grammar discussions. We also practiced listening skills and yesterday, we did tongue twisters that by the end of the class my tongue was just as tired as my mind.

Our trainer also suggested that we evaluate our typing skills by downloading Typing Master—I discovered can still do a decent 50 wpm with 95% accuracy for English words.

There will be three more sessions to go and I am eager to learn more. As painful and embarrassing as it may seem, I will open my mind to what is being taught, for this week I am relearning English. I kill me.