It is graduation season here in the Philippines and for many students, there’s a mix of exultation – no more school! – and anxiety – what’s next?
One of the things I find surprising during this mad scramble to find a job right after graduation, is the number of students who immediately think that their course equals their career.
If you studied HRM, you must go into a human resources job.
If you studied nursing, you must become a nurse.
If you studied tourism, you must work in a hotel.
While many of those industries offer enough opportunities to rise to the top, these industries aren’t growing as fast as BPO, or business process outsourcing, which has created more than 1M jobs in the Philippines over the last 15 years. This growth is not slowing down and is in fact increasing, especially in higher skill jobs like engineering, IT, and design.
If you want to earn a solid income in the Philippines a few years from now, the BPO industry is really the main place you should start. It offers a great starting salary and benefits, but most importantly, BPO is also one of the few, if not the only industry where you can start completely at the bottom, and your own performance and merit (rather than who you know or where you went to school) is what matters the most.
I’m not going to lie and say the work is glamorous – it is not. You’re working at night, sometimes dealing with irate people on the phone or via email, and sometimes you think to yourself, there must be an easier way to make a living. But you have to keep it in context – the first few years of ANY job aren’t the best and your goal while you’re a call center agent is to work hard enough so that you can quickly move up and earn that promotion.
Yes, you will start off as a call center agent and will probably have to work 2-4 years at night, with a salary in the 15,000 – 20,000 PHP range, and will have to deal with all sorts of challenges at work.
By the way, BPOs and call centers aren’t just filled with call center agents — there are team leads, quality analysts, trainers, HR, and finance. BPO is just like any other industry or company that need the best people to move up to fill the higher level roles.
The reason we’re advocating for BPO is because the industry is growing so fast, it is desperate for talent at all levels, especially in the entry level and mid-management levels.
Many of the team leads, operations managers and even some of the country managers of today’s BPOs started off as call center agents.
I spent 6 months as a call center agent myself, when I worked at Fisher Investments for a college internship. When I started my BPO in 2007, I remember many nights where I had to fill-in as a call center agent when one of my employees was absent due to illness.
Some of the people we hired as entry-level call center agents in 2007, now help us run our BPO. While their pay has increased substantially, their skill level and desirability in the job marketplace have increased even more. These are now the people that recruiters are going after and who will make 100,000 PHP or more per month as operations managers and team leads. And with the world coming to the Philippines, they will have their pick of where to take the next step in their careers.
There is no shortcut to success — it requires years of hard work. But the message I want you to know about is that you should do this hard work now, while you’re still young. At 21 years old, with no kids and no marriage, start figuring out how you’re going to acquire the skills, experience and connections to exponentially grow your ability to earn in the next 5 years.
The BPO industry offers you all the opportunities you need to do this. With a plan, perserverance and a lot of hard work, you will rise and find yourself on top.
To the managers in BPO who started at the bottom but have risen up, please comment and share your story for our readers!