Red telephone

The one interview/job opportunity we don’t talk about is my first call center. In February 2017, I found a local call center that was looking for agents. It was for their night shift campaign and honestly I have no idea why I agreed to it.

There wasn’t anything specific that bugged me about the place but the whole situation felt off. I was considered an oddity because I didn’t smoke or drink which made me feel out of place. When I voiced my concerns about working night shift, they moved me to the daytime shift. When I explained my father’s concerns about transport as the call center was a distance away, they graciously arranged a lift club for me.

I did feel grateful that they took my worries seriously but I always found it strange that they were so determined to keep a girl with no experience. I also felt a bit iffy since the job was described to me as a Marketing role and not sales- a tactic I would later learn that several call centers used.

Regardless of the team trying to ease my situation, my father hated the job. Naturally he did since it was a call center and call centers have a bad reputation among the Indian community (because of all the drinking and smoking the agents indulge in). But my family had been pushing me to get a job and I didn’t know what else I could do.

I tried to push through the training. But towards the middle of the week it became clear that I was a bad fit. While I easily remembered the theory of selling and the benefits of the product, I struggled to fit in and doing roleplays as a sale agent made me uncomfortable. The trainer told me that I had a dead voice and she was right. No matter how hard I tried, I was unable to inflect my voice with any kind of emotion. Looking back, this is ironic because once I did move on to Customer Care a few years later, I was always praised for my bright and friendly tone.

When they took us out on the floor for us to get the “vibe” of the place, I was appalled. It was chaotic. The agents were loud and all talking over one another. As an introvert, I was traumatized.

I went home and never went back to the call center. I had been in the process of changing my cellphone so I simply switched to another number, refusing to allow anyone from the call center to contact me and change my mind.

The lesson I learnt from this was that not every job is for every person. I did eventually go on to work in a call center and it was a much better fit and a better environment than this first one I ran away from. I also learnt the importance of accepting others for who they are. The call center that I ended up working for had agents who admitted it was unusual that I didn’t drink or smoke like them but it was no big deal. Which to me, meant a big deal.