I was a fresh graduate with only dreams to fall back on. I dreamt of starting a business but didn't have the resources at that time. So when I spotted an advertisement in the newspaper that read, "Wanted graduates, undergraduates with good communication skills, should be open to working night shifts", I jumped to the offer. The interview was smooth sailing and I was offered a monthly salary of Rs. 6,500. I was thrilled about my first job and couldn't wait to break the news to dad. The first thing he said was that it sounded like decent pocket money.
I worked night shifts as I dealt with the outbound sales process for the United States, selling vacation packages and credit cards. That's where I learnt the skill of selling besides improving my communication skills while interacting with foreign clients. Having worked two years at the call centre, one evening I sat down to introspect on what I wanted from life. Working night shifts with the kind of salary that could not even help me buy basic necessities did not fit in my long-term plans. I quit the job in a couple of days.
The second career break came when I was offered work in a leading telecom brand for taking inbound calls from Indian customers. The focus was on customer service. A year into the job with a Rs. 3,000 hike, I went to dad again, hoping he'd be proud of me. But I got the same listless response. After working in an international business process outsourcing (BPO), I admit I did face a few challenges in adjusting in the domestic environment so I eventually resigned.
My third job was with a computer giant that was outsourcing from India and taking inbound calls for resolving technical issues of customers in the US. I grabbed the offer for my salary saw a jump of Rs. 2,000 and I was getting back to an international BPO. The stint helped brush up my technical skills. Seven years into the job with promotions and salary hikes, I was a sales trainer and coach and satisfied with people management. I earned a decent salary of Rs. 45,000 but dad still wasn't convinced. He reminded me that working night shifts was working against the biological clock and it was taking a toll on my health.
So there I was in the fourth job with a US start-up launching in India. It needed someone with experience in sales, training, BPO and customer service. I fitted the bill perfectly.
So there I am, a decade on, working in a call centre and waiting for dad to tell me, "You're doing good." As for the dream of starting a business, a call centre wouldn't be a far-fetched idea.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org