Friday, July 30, 2010

I have nothing against call centers, but we're running an art school...

Yesterday, I got a call from a call center HR representative and she asked me about one of our graduates (at the APC School of Multimedia Arts). I know the alumnus' work habits because he had been my student and had been very diligent. I remember that he'd consult with me about his projects even outside class hours. Though working on his design portfolio had been quite a daunting task, he had exhibited the kind of determination I find rare in students these days. As an educator, I appreciate hard work and smart workers.

As the school's Assistant Director, however, I am very keen on how effective our instructional systems are. I look at the process flows and make sure that both the faculty members and students are delivering well. This means that if I really take my job seriously, I'd be concentrating on providing the industry with the best creative talents our school has to offer.

You can imagine how stumped I was when the agent suddenly asked, "Would you recommend him for work at a call center?"

It took me a few seconds to compose my thoughts then I answered with as much honesty as I could muster: "You have to understand that we're running an art school. I wouldn't recommend any of our graduates to work in any unrelated field because we would want them to use the degrees they've attained." Then I proceeded to enumerate his list of sterling qualities.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against call centers. I understand that like OFWs, call center agents have tremendously alleviated our country's growing economic pains. It's just that if I see our graduates working in any other field besides the creative, it makes me question our system. Have we not effectively nurtured their talents? Have we not done enough to improve their skills? Have we driven them so hard that they'd get so sick of the arts? Or did the students enter our school without knowing what they were getting into and then realizing in the end that this wasn't what they wanted?

Of course, I'd still be happy for them wherever they decide to go. A good educator knows that if she provides the proper foundations, her students will grow in leaps in bounds. No matter which path they eventually decide to take.  One graduate even became a flight attendant, one of the jobs I would have wanted for myself if I weren't such a shorty. Another one got into real estate and seems very happy with it. Still, transitions like these make you wonder...

And this is why I am in constant dialogue with our alumni.

Image credits:
http://school.discoveryeducation.com/



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10 comments :

  1. I will bet my left hand that it was a call of personal economic necessity that your alumni had to apply in a call center. When pressure got the best of me, I also sent my resume in a call center companies. It was a blessing that I made it in the game production industry.

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  2. @Shaola
    Huwaaaah! You're in the game industry na? As a game artist or developer? I'm so proud of you!!! >:D<

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  3. COMMENTS FROM MY FB. I'm keeping them here because I could make a study out of these. This site is better at archiving than FB is.

    Joshua Jireh Dajao Gah. I feel your pain Bea-chan. I spent a good 4 years in the industry, and I certainly wouldn't want to have to go through all that again.

    Incidentally, I bumped into a few old co-workers from ePLDT just a few days ago. They're still working as regular call center agents, but have recently switched over to a different company for higher pay. And some of these people were already veterans when I hit the floor in 2003 mind you.

    I found it a bit sad and disturbing knowing that they've been working in the industry for more than 7 years now, and have seemingly resigned themselves to keep working in it for the rest of natural lives.

    Ala Ala Mendoza-Clemente i think it is more for the money why kids nowadays succumb to call centers. it's the tease of a lot of money at a young age, although it is rare that they could really make it into a career. sad no? in our days we were told to do well at a career we choose after college and try our best to get a good and stable position. now, these kids just want the money instead of a career they were meant to pursue.

    Aerol Bibat it's the money - yun lang yun. most people get burned out though after a few years and nakaipon na sila. I think that's the new trajectory - college- call center for 2 to 4 years - then real career. hahaha

    Celeste Galera Charupakorn So true... But I guess times are hard... You just have to go where you can have the means to feed your family... :-(

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  4. It baffles me why would anyone in my field would work in a call center even if the only reason is money? Is the money in call centers or any outsourced customer support service field really that lucrative?

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  5. Sayang nga if they don't put the degrees they earned to good use.

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  6. @Gino
    Apparently, it is. I'd like to better understand the economics of it, though. It's always been my opinion that if you love what you're doing, money is sure to follow. But I guess, this doesn't hold true for a lot of people.

    @Rowena
    Yeah...It's depressing to even think about it.

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  7. Skysenshi,

    A few years back I was faced with this situation. There was a time when I worked as a freelancer for a Post prod house in Makati. Although they paid well, There were times when projects came in numbers, and there were also times when there would be none.

    Being a broadcasting graduate, it seemed like going the way of the call center was the practical thing to do at the time. Fortunately some good employment opportunities came along thus eliminating the need to cross that line.

    I guess not all CG Artists will have the same luck. The important thing is that they keep their priorities in check, and that they stay happy with the choices they make.

    Jei

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  8. LOL! I couldn't help it, I messaged the student in FB. I guess he was getting sick of waiting for employment calls because he said he just sent his resume for the heck of it. Trying to see if he can get in.

    This is something I hope the present administration can address. First of course, is better education. Second, that our graduates don't end up unemployed or underemployed (working in a field that's unrelated).

    In hindsight, I was originally underemployed. My first degree says that I should be working in HR. But coupled with a second degree, I was able to put both to good use.

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  9. Oh, don't get me wrong. We need call centers. Really. It helps a lot of people.

    I just want my students to practice their art. ^^

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  10. Hi Ms Bea,

    I found a link to your site from Sir Elvert's Fb (Idk if he knows me specifically but I was a student of his in PLM, batch '10).

    Anyway, I share the same sentiments. I have nothing against the industry but to me, for creative's to enter it is suicide. I know far too many call center agents who swore on their first year that it's temporary and are now counting the years. I understand the benefits but it does not entice me at all.

    I could snag a job a big call center companies if I wanted to but I chose not. I work as a copywriter at a small ad agency; and even if the pay is only half a Technical Support's, I'm staying here.

    I could not imagine myself doing something far from my passion. The progress is slow but I know it'll pay in the long run. :)

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