The current job market (Jamaica) is set up in such a way that most graduates (myself included) are forced to take a job just to get their bills paid. Said job may not be in the field the graduate wants to pursue a career in, but it’s “better than nothing”. The place that this is most evident is in the recently booming BPO industry.
Within the last few years, the industry has taken a giant leap locally. While it may help the unskilled fraction of the labour force, the tertiary graduates forced to take these jobs that demand time and energy that the employers are not willing to fairly pay for, will most definitely see things differently. No group of people understand this as well as those whom have actually worked in a call center.
Modern Day Slavery?
Quite often, the industry is referred to as modern day slavery, and with just cause. For example, shortly before I left, my company developed a policy, that if you were late three times you would be fired. I went home one day and realized the need to visit the doctor in the morning. I called in before my shift and informed my superior I would be a few hours late, going to the doctor.
I was advised when I got to work 2 hours later than I was sceduled that it did not matter that I had informed anyone, my need to visit the doctor did not matter and it would go towards my being fired and I needed to sign a form saying this. I refused. To add, said company would frown upon requests for entitled vacation time.
Once you’ve spent a certain amount of time in a call center, that is mostly what other companies tend to want to hire you for. It is the vicious, ever present cycle of companies wanting experince they simply do not want to provide. Entry level job demanding 2 to 3 years experince, while the candidate needs a job to acquire said experience.
Mental Wear & Tear
Initially, what I learned was patience. Patience in dealing with slow, entitled, unreasonable, demanding, verbally abusive folks. I also realized that at some point, that patience gained in dealing with those things as well as bureaucracy not only plateaued, it began to erode. The longer I remained in the job, the less patience I had.
I felt like an obscene number of my brain cells died every single day that I was in that position. Just dealing with persons who were willfully and selectively ignorant became too much. There was also the same repetitive conundrum, no room for change, creativity. No innovation. Always stick to the script.
I became frightened of the number of people whom I worked with that were there because they were stuck. They meant to spend a year or two, but that turned into five years of being stuck in a dead end job that would monopolize their resume for every other job to come. I did not want that. To make matters worse, I had a supervisor who had been ‘stuck‘ at the lower level for 15 years and it seemed had no intention of allowing any of her subordinates to skip ‘due diligence’ and advance within the company, even though said company thrived on just that. She purposefully underminded evaluations, doing them as she saw fit to her opinion rather than what the company required.
In 2015, I chose to quit my call center job for the afore-mentioned reasons and others, including my ever present sour disposition following a shift. For my own sanity, while I had no dependents and was able to search for a more fitting position to pursue the career I actually wanted. My husband and I also thought that would be he perfect time, to have a child, so that after giving birth I dedicate my time to my career without interuption to pursue having a child, which we both wanted before the big 30. It was whichever came first. As you can tell if you follow my blog, in 2016, our daughter entered our lives and took precedence. So now, it’s on to other things.
For me, the narrative that anything is better than nothing was not something I cared to enact. Some things aren’t suited to my personality and that was definitely one of the them. I spent four months umemployed immediately following, and have no regrets. I chose to create my own window of opportunity as opposed to staring at a wall within a box. It was an eye opening experience, and not one I care to repeat.