The ramblings of a self-proclaimed call center veteran - on surviving the Philippine Call Center industry.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS and A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Kahit may pasok tayo ng Pasko at Bagong Taon...may you have a great CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR!!!

Some Tips:

1)  Wag ma depress dahil may pasok -- isipin mo double pay naman.
2)  Celebrate Christmas or New Year at an earlier date -- importante e magkakasama kayo ng Pamilya mo.
3)  Umalis ng maaga sa bahay pag New Year at baka maabutan ng paputok kung graveyard shift ka.
4)  Wag magdala ng mga gadgets at madaming holdapan ngayon

God Bless you all!!!

Mabuhay ang Pinoy Agents!

MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL CALL CENTER AGENTS OUT THERE!!!

Kahit may pasok tayo ng Pasko at Bagong Taon...may you have a great CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR!!!

Some Tips:

1)  Wag ma depress dahil may pasok -- isipin mo double pay naman.
2)  Celebrate Christmas or New Year at an earlier date -- imoportante e magkakasama kayo ng Pamilya mo.
3)  Umalis ng maaga sa bahay pag New Year at baka maabutan ng paputok kung graveyard shift ka.
4)  Wag magdala ng mga gadgets at madaming holdapan ngayon

God Bless you all!!!

Mabuhay ang Pinoy Agents!

Monday, November 21, 2011

TIPS ON - HOW TO TRAVEL SAFELY


For the exact news article please see this link: 

It personally hurts me to see fellow agents become victims due to our careers.  I do sincerely hope that people who harm others die horrible deaths.

I myself had been a victim once.  I was on my way to work at 3am in the morning when three men rode the jeepney I was riding and mugged everyone.  This happened near Araneta Ave, cor Quezon Avenue, and I lost my money and cell phone that day.

After that I have been more vigilant and I came up with some effective tips that will hopefully give you insight on avoiding evil people.

1)  WATCH WHAT YOU WEAR

Do not be stupid!  You are travelling at night and you flaunt the latest and most expensive fashion accessories?  You walk dark streets and you wear tight and skimpy outfits?  Show more common sense when you are travelling.  You never know what perverts may roam the streets, so do not help them single you out.

Kung kaya mong mag-papanget at magmukhang walang pera - gawin mo.  Sa opisina ka nalang mag ayos.  Wag magsuklay bago umalis ng bahay.

2)  LEARN TO BE AWARE OF PEOPLE

When you have the graveyard shift you should practice "kapraningan".  Be overly cautious of everyone on the street and note every passenger who rides the bus/FX/jeepney with you.  Evil people give off an evil aura, so IF you see someone and your instinct dictates something is wrong then act on it.  Either get down that vehicle or run away.  It's ok to look stupid as long as you are safe.

Buti nang praning kesa mapahamak

3)  TRY NOT TO TALK TO STRANGERS

Call it rude, but during nights, it is better to ignore people.  I have heard a story from a colleague who was just asked for the time, and he ended up getting mugged.  It's better to walk fast and not mind people in the streets, even those asking for help.  If people really needed help (asking directions, or time etc.) they would be in well-lighted areas since they are practicing caution themselves.

4)  FIND SAFE AREAS

Try to ride near the bus drivers and avoid sitting on the edge of the bus where no one sits.  Stick to the crowds as much as you can.  Try to find well lighted areas or security guards when you are waiting for jeepneys.  If you need to text or call, wait till you are in a safe place.

5)  BE WARY OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

It is true that big name taxi corporations impose stricter policies before they hire cab drivers.  So during nights, try to find branded taxis.  Always note the plate numbers and text your friends.  Look at the taxi driver first to see if the danger instinct kicks in.  

Before you ride jeepneys, screen the people riding it first.  If you do not feel comfortable riding, then do not.  

6)  DO NOT BRING EXPENSIVE STUFF

Only idiots bring expensive stuff when they commute at night.  Buy a cheaper cellphone that you can use when travelling.

7)  PRAY BEFORE YOU TRAVEL


Any other tips you can share?








Monday, November 14, 2011

TIPS ON – GETTING ALONG WITH CO-WORKERS


Most call center agents resign simply because they cannot get along with their office mates...

1) Try not to be a loner

I personally have nothing against loners, but the call center is a pretty social place.  You need social skills to survive this type of industry.  You need to ask co-workers help at one point or the other.  You need to use your communication skills to talk to your customers.  And you need to reach out to your team leaders.

You do not have to mingle with everyone, but at least mingle with people who matter.  It will be very hard to be singled out as the office snob.

You raise survival chances if at least you communicate with others.  If you really are a hard core loner, consider a career as a librarian.


Wag mag pa-mysterious type effect...papansin kalalabasan mo...  

2)  Have boundaries

Now lets talk about the 'super extroverts'.

They are friends with everyone, even the janitors, the cafeteria vendors, taxi drivers and the guards.

There’s nothing wrong with being friendly, but just have boundaries.  Make sure that you do not broadcast your private personal life.  Keep the details of how your mother has issues, or how your loved one takes you for granted, or how you have three nipples.  There's such a thing such as "giving too much information" -- so learn to limit details or it may be used against you.

Also, try not to show people how popular you are by bragging that you have friends everywhere on the floor.  You will just come off as annoying.  Office life is not a popularity contest, you are there to work.  

3) Do not be an asshole

Some agents were just meant to be run over by a speeding vehicle. 

These agents feel bad when someone gets promoted, are rude to everyone, and they make friends for profit.  These agents suck-up to the bosses and are quick to badmouth other agents.  They are jealous, conniving and lives up to the “talangka mentality”.  After some time, when the upper management sees their bad attitudes, they get fired.  

So make you sure that you have a nice attitude.  Try your best to be kind and fair to everyone.  Have a daily mantra or think of Bro or Santino.  Being nice in the office will make you more liked, and will make your call center life less stressful 

4)  Try not to be weird

In your personal environment you have family and friends who will love you for who you are.  In the office, people will judge you based on how you act.  Try to practice proper and normal behavior and always keep your actions in check.  Try to fight those eccentric urges or you will be tagged as the office weirdo.  Do not be the cool “rebel” who does whatever he wants (anu ka, teenager?). 

Also, try not to look visually normal.  At the end of the day, this is the Philippines -- people will always talk about how you have a rainbow colored beard, or you how you never wear deodorant. 

5)  Act your age

There are young and old alike in the call center.  There is nothing more annoying that being 40 and acting as a teenager, or being 20 and you talk as if you are ancient.  Just try to be natural and act your age. 

Refrain from using the “age card” where you expect to have special favors because you are old, or you are still young and this is your first job -- on the floor, everyone’s equal.

6)  Do not be the office Borrower / PG

There are agents notorious for borrowing money – they get talked about and are generally avoided.  It's ok to borrow for emergencies.  But do not make a habit out of it.  

Also, do not be the office PG (patay gutom).  Try to be someone who can sometimes say “no” to free food.

Habitual borrowers and Patay gutom's easily lose respect in people's eyes.              

And I quote – “pare-parehas kayo sumesweldo, wag mang-lamang ng kapwa.”

7) Be professional

The office is not your playground nor your fashion show.  You do not go there to make friends or be popular.  It’s not an outlet to let out your personal problems and frustrations.  You work to make money…PERIOD!

Make sure you practice professionalism at all times, and your call center lives will be a breeze!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

TIPS ON - EARNING EXTRA INCOME



Call centers are unlike other jobs where you have to be mindful of work even after office hours – so use this to your advantage. Rather than spend all of your afterhours partying/drinking/sleeping, why not do something that will give you extra cash? Sure it may require effort, but making money will always require effort.

1) Believe you can make extra money if you want to

I have read Rich Dad Poor Dad, Go Negosyo, and other financial books and blogs out there.  Usually, they have one main idea -- and it is to BELIEVE that you can make extra money if you really wanted to. Learn to see opportunities, rather than loopholes. If you believe it, then you will have the will to make it happen.

2) Educate yourself

Read books on money, wealth, how to handle finances and how to improve your lifestyle. Understand the meaning of assets and liabilities. Remember that what you respect, you will attract -- so if you learn to respect and understand money, you will find ways to attract money.

Here are some easy to understand blogs on improving your mindset when it comes to money. I am not affiliated with these blogs, but I am an avid reader.

Frugal Pinoy – (Practical and Simple)
http://www.frugalpinoy.com/

Pinoy Money Tips – (All about savings)
http://pinoymoneytips.com/

Get Rich Slowly – (Not a Pinoy Blog but I learned a lot)
http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/

Ready to be Rich – (A personal favorite)
http://fitzvillafuerte.com/

Pinoy Business.com
http://pinoy-business.com/

3) Try direct selling or putting up a small business


Ever heard of Boardwalk, Avon or Autoload? There are many direct selling organizations that you can apply for.  Selling may require effort, but as I said, getting extra cash will always require effort. Why not get a catalog and sell some items to your office mates? Have them pay by installment or when payday comes.

Another good idea is to have rakets -- sell packed lunches or desserts to your officemates.  Build a small carinderia at home or set-up a sari-sari store.

These are some good blogs for business ideas:

Pinoy Raket
http://pinoyraket.blogspot.com/

Pinoy Business Ideas
http://www.pinoybisnes.com/

VERY IMPORTANT! – NEVER INVEST IN SOMETHING THAT WILL COST MORE THAN P1,000! Beginners should start small and learn the ropes first. Do not go for pyramiding, or a business where you have to pay and you get no physical goods in return! Also remember the golden rule of small businesses – “If it’s too good to be true…then it probably isn’t TRUE!

Direct selling links:
Boardwalk
Avon Philippines
Dakki

4) Start an Online Store


I started selling on Ebay since 2007. Online selling is not only easy but it’s fun as well. Of course you usually need a computer as well as an internet connection for this, but I have observed call center agents usually have internet access.  Find things to sell online, may it be books, toys, or old clothes.

What I personally do is I ask everyone I know if they want to sell old cellphones or electronic items. I then take pictures of the items and sell them on Ebay with interest.  One time I made 20k on profit, so this really works!

See this link for free online stores in the Philippines:
http://designpinoy.com/web/top-10-free-online-buying-and-selling-sites-in-the-philippines/
Thank you Design Pinoy!

5) Stop being lazy


Get off your sorry ass and stop buying those Lotto tickets! You gain wealth little by little, through hardwork, getting financially educated and by saving. Lazy people are poor and will always be poor – and that is a fact.

Any other Money making tips you can suggest?


For tips on Saving Money, please see this post: TIPS ON SAVING MONEY

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TIPS ON - HOW TO GET SLEEP


Please check out my guide on Surviving the Night Shift -- this has good sleeping tips as well.


DISCLAIMER: I did not write this nor am affiliated with this post, but it's full of great information.
Source: Keeper of the Home (Link Below)

1) Make sleep a priority :: Look at sleep as the restorative period that it is rather than an inconvenient obligation. Give your mind, body and soul the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate.

2) Establish a routine :: Bedtime routines aren't just for children. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning, regardless of the day of the week or if you've had a rough night's sleep. Wake up within 30 minutes of your waking time each day of the week. This will help your body clock set itself correctly.

3) Relax :: Can't sleep? We're not able to will ourselves or make ourselves go to sleep. We need to lie down, close our eyes and relax, waiting for sleep to overtake us. But the relaxing part of that equation often fouls up the entire formula. Drink a cup of chamomile tea or warm milk, take a warm bath or read a book for a few minutes before turning off the light. Give yourself time to slow down and unwind, letting your body know it's time to prepare for sleep.

4) Add a mind purge :: When I can't sleep because I've got too much on my mind, I've found that simply having a pad of paper and a pen by my bed comes in handy. Thoughts, plans and worries can often interfere with our ability to relax and fall asleep. Write down everything that comes to mind in a 1 to 3 minute period. As simple as it sounds, it will enable you to free your mind of those thoughts and avoid carrying them to bed with you. With less on your mind, you are free to relax and drift off to sleep.

5) Get your Body movin':: Getting some form of physical activity during the day will help your body differentiate between daytime and nighttime, making it easier to get to sleep and stay asleep when you want to. Avoid strenuous exercise and activity within 4 hours of going to bed so your body will be able to relax in time for sleep.

6) Eat well and wisely :: Ditch the Standard Diet and eat real food. Make your noon meal the largest of the day rather than your biggest meal being a few hours before you are going to try to sleep. Digesting a large meal will keep you awake and unable to drift off to sleep.

7) Make your bedroom a restful place :: Keep your bedroom free from unnecessary clutter and distractions. Remove the TV and designate another area of your house for your desk and computer (or put them behind doors if they must stay in your room) so as to free your mind from thinking about work and other things.

8) Limit caffeine (or better yet, quit it all together) :: Use coffee, pop, caffeinated teas and even chocolate in moderation. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. Even if you only drink caffeine in the mornings, it makes it more difficult to fall asleep at night and affects the quality of sleep that you are able to get. It is difficult to quit (I know! I used to be a Diet Coke junkie.) but it's worth it.





Original link for the post above: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2011/01/the-benefits-of-sleep-8-tips-for-getting-quality-sleep.html

Thursday, June 02, 2011

TIPS ON – HOW NOT TO BE A CALL CENTER HOPPER


Call center hoppers are agents that hop from one callcenter to another.  Every jump leads to the hope that the next company is where they will settle down.

Testing the waters isn’t really a bad thing, but recognize when resigning is becoming a habit.  If you find yourself in your 4th call center job within a year, then analyze if you are just having extremely bad luck, or it might be your attitude already -- chances are, it’s your attitude.

Many agents find the negative side of everything.

My uncle taught me that a career is like a seed in a plot.  Once you plant the seed, you need time for it to grow.  Once the plant is bigger, only then can you transfer it to another plot.  If you transfer a small sprout, it will never fully grow.

I personally know some call center hoppers, some are now 35 years old and they still have no stable careers.  Make constant career shifting a habit and you will go nowhere.

So here are some tips to help you avoid call center hopping.

1) Research first before getting hired
Rather than getting hired first then regretting it later, make sure you do proper research on your target company.  Go to Pinoyexchange and find discussion threads about the call center that you are eyeing.  Find people online and offline who can talk to you about your prospective workplace.  Be wary of false information, because some call center agents tend to exaggerate and give false feedback.  Putting effort in gathering information is way better than getting hired -- only to be discouraged once on the floor.

Here’s the link to PinoyExchange, log-in and look for the call center thread.
http://www.pinoyexchange.com/

2) Set your expectations

When the final interview comes and the interviewer asks you "if there are any questions", then fire away and ask.  Ask about the salary, the schedules, the environment, growth, metrics, how cold the aircon is etc.
If you applied in a decent call center, then the HR personnel should answer your questions about the actual work.  It’s their job to answer your questions after you pass the interviews.  You can also say that you want to know because you want to find a lasting career.

If the HR refuses to give information, or answers "secret", then do not sign that contract!  That company is not being professional, and they do not care about your wellbeing.

3) Stop looking for better work
You want a job where you can be happy?  A job where you can make friends?  An easier job where you can make petiks, or where the avail time is longer?  Somewhere where you are allowed to browse Facebook, Twitter, Porn or take endless breaks?

Amazingly, these call center jobs do exist -- but if you chase after them all the time, then what does that say about your character?  A Job is something that was never meant to be easy.  You work to make money…period!  You don’t go to work to have fun or make friends.

People who do nothing but seek easy and fun careers are often poor.

4) Aim for maturity and discipline
No working conditions are perfect, but if you find that the work is something you can live with – then go for it! You will learn discipline and maturity when you face challenges. It may be hard, but overcoming hardships builds you up as a person.

5) Easy call centers = No stability
A call center account with little calls and little work will close down after a while (no callers = no customers = no job).  Call centers that just let you browse during work hours leads way to unproductivity.  A lasting account imposes discipline to its agents.  This is because they want their clients to stay, and be impressed with their work ethics.  I have been in the same account for 3 years and we have no browsing policies and strict attendance and metrics.  The job may be hard – but at least I still have one.

6) Know when to Quit
Quitting is not bad -- just make sure you are quitting for the right reasons.  There are a lot of bad call centers out there -- I did suggest that you research first before signing that final contract.

If you're really are stuck in a career where you cry every single day and regret coming to work, then write that resignation letter.

But do remember, that there is a thin line between nag-iinarte ka lang and the job is really bad.  If qutting is becoming a habit, then chances are nag-iinarte ka nga.

You only quit when:
1) There is no possible growth or the compensation is really bad.
2) The bosses are evil to the extent that they will personally harass you.
3) The company does not follow the labor code.
4) The environment will damage your health and mental well being.

Any other tips you can think of?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TIPS ON - SURVIVING THE NIGHT SHIFT



So now you have a schedule were your nights become day, and the million dollar question is -- "how do you live a vampiric life without dying or giving up in the process?"

Here are a few tips that I found to be effective for me.


1)  Set a regular sleeping time


Unless you were sleeping when your grade school teachers taught the topic, you should be aware that we have an internal body clock.  This internal clock defines when we are to sleep or wake-up.  When you get that graveyard schedule of yours, make sure to plan what time you will go to sleep and be sure that you discipline yourself to sleep the same time everyday.  This way, your body clock will adjust accordingly and you will get the 6-8 hour needed shut-eye.

If you often change your sleep schedules, you will find that it will be harder and harder to fall asleep.  Pretty soon, you will get insomnia and you will die early.

2)  Set an appropriate sleeping environment


Try your best to make your daytime rest as conducive as possible.  Since instinct dictates that darkness is equal to sleep, use dark curtains or black trash bags to cover your windows (pero and init nun).  Use eye covers if the room is still too bright (or blindfold yourself with a necktie - but this seems fetish-like).  Buy earplugs (from hardware shops).  Talk to your family members & neighbors and explain your situation as a call center agent, then politely ask them to minimize noise.
**I am not endorsing!  But you can buy earplugs at any hardware store and you can get those sleeping eye covers at Watsons or Tickles stores.**

3)  On your days-off, get as much sleep as you can


You really feel more rested when you sleep at night, so on you day-off I suggest you sleep whenever you can.  Sleep throughout the whole day and sleep throughout the whole night.  Try to minimize (not eliminate) socializing and use your rest days to recuperate.

4)  Use Multivitamins
A graveyard shift made my body weaker and I got fevers and colds easily.  I went to a doctor with my symptoms and he immediately asked if I drank Multivitamins.   He confirmed that this is essential for call center agents.

I then asked if I can buy cheaper generic multivitamins since kuripot ako (4 Pesos a piece).  The doctor said that the generic brands are better than nothing.  So go for generic brands if your budget is tight.  But if you have the cash, then buy all the Centrums, Stresstabs, and Enervons you want.  But just take one capsule a day – you don’t want to destroy your liver and kidneys.

5)  Eat Healthy Foods


As you adjust for the night shift, your body needs all the help it can get.  So If you can’t lessen the protein, then at least add more greens.

6)  Cut down on things that would keep you awake


As you approach your log-out time, make sure you refrain from eating/drinking foods or doing activities that would make you more active.  Avoid, sweets/caffeine/nicotine when you approach the designated sleep time.  Try to relax as you go home and stop thinking about the officemate you would like to murder.  Relax, think nice happy thoughts as you enjoy the sights and smells of Edsa.

Do note that the first months would be hard, but as time goes by, you'll find yourself getting more used to the graveyard schedule.

Feel free to comment and suggest as well.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

TIPS ON - LIKING YOUR JOB



Learning to like your job as a call center agent is the top key of survival. Some agents do nothing but complain. They complain about their work, their account, their salary, their bosses, the color of the sun, etc.

My advice?

Whiners should just suck it up! Jobs were not meant to be easy -- you work hard to earn money.

So if you want to succeed, change your mindset and be thankful you have a job.

Allow me to share with you the things that I've picked up as a Callboy and the reasons why agents should like working in call centers.

1) You gain independence
Most people grow up to be 30 and still don't know how to take care of themselves. When working in Call centers (especially the shifts for the dead), you will unavoidably learn how to practically live alone and survive. When you get home, everyone has left for school or work. This experience makes you realize that your parents will not cook and clean for you forever. You learn to be independent and you strive to survive. The power of common sense (which isn't very common at all) is developed.

2) You learn to budget
While some stupid agents spend all their wages on Starbucks, cellphones, clothes and pirated dvd's, I have seen more agents learn the value of money. Money in the call center is not easily gained, and paychecks are borne from enduring frustrations and curses from irate clients who have low IQ levels. Night differentials and bonuses came from risking safety and health -- so you learn to respect earnings more.

3) You get a computer literacy upgrade
If you work as a callboy or a callgirl, you become somewhat tech savvy. Gone are the days when you panic at the first sign of computer trouble. You immediately say, "clear the cache and delete temporary internet files" to fix computer problems (even if that computer has no internet). You also develop dexterity in typing, and use the amazing time saving power of ctrl+c & ctrl+v. You become more exposed in the realm of computers and technology -- free training that you won't easily get from anywhere else.

And bukas makalawa..hacker ka na, nag pipirata na ng DVD...etc.

4) You learn respect for people
You get exposed to a wide array of individuals, attitudes, preferences, cultures and sexualities.
In call Centers, racists and stupid judgmental people are the outcasts. Minds get broadened and understanding evolves.

5) You get to be who you really are
Unlike other industries, acceptance is a norm in a call center, you have the freedom to be yourself. If you have three kids by the age of 20 (o makati ka pa sa kuneho), no one will judge you. It does not matter even if you are gay, lesbian, old or young. Even if you were ugly, people will not care. You will be evaluated based on the work you do.

6) Your communication skills improve
Gone are the days of nosebleeds.
In three months, you'll learn the meaning of escalate and sub-categorize. English is caught and not taught, and you will catch a whole lot of English in call centers.

7) You get other health benefits
While others spend thousands for skin-whitening chemicals (like glutathione and dyobos), you naturally get whiter skin as a night shift call center agent because you do not get exposed to sunlight.

You will also be far from the dangers of cancer since Coffee has lots of antioxidants. In call centers you may drink coffee till the world ends.

But seriously…

I believe that the best thing that an individual gets from working in call centers is that they learn how to be strong, to be patient and to accept and understand others.

A call center career may be challenging and may not be the dream careers we wanted. But it's honest work that we should be proud of. We also get free aircon, and the higher than average salaries do not hurt either.

So what other benefits can you think of?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

TIPS ON - GETTING ALONG WITH TEAM LEADERS



                                            
An agent's lifeline is their team leaders, so one key to survival is to get along with them. Whether they be saints or sinners, ugly and stupid, you need to have a good working relationship with them.

So here are a few pointers when it comes to your team leaders.

1) Your Team Leaders are Human
Some agents do nothing but complain that their team leaders are idiots, and total morons, and that they can do better. They expect team leaders to be without flaws since they are seniors.

A good attitude then is to realize that leaders are not robots, but human as well. They have their moods, bad attitudes, and bad days. And you're not so perfect as well, so don’t expect them to be. They are still your bosses, so try your best to be in good terms with them.

2) Pleasing your Team Leaders are different from sucking up

I mentioned that you needed to be in good terms with your boss, but this doesn't mean that you kiss their asses. Leave the ass kissing to the stupid idiots who will get their share of karma someday.

Pleasing your boss means you doing your job properly (like being professional or not being late). And pleasing your boss means going the extra mile to make their lives easier. An agent is meant to serve his boss and listen to the boss, and not the other way around.

3) Don’t abuse your Team Leaders
Some agents should get a master's degree for being late (nagka-aksidente nanaman sa edsa), faking sickness (instant migraine/LBM), and making up excuses (may adik sa labas ng bahay). Do remember that your Team Leads answer to a higher manager, and if you mess up your performance, then their performance gets messed up too.

Lenient team leaders become strict when abused -- and this affects the whole team as well.

4) Treat your Team leaders the way you want to be treated
The Golden rule: Do unto others…blah blah blah.

5) Do not get too Personal with your team leads
No matter how nice your Team Leaders may be, they are still your bosses. Be professional with them, and show respect at all times -- this will spare you from issues and jealous co-workers. Should you really become close friends, then meet somewhere outside the office to chill and relax.

In the end, getting along with team leaders should be easy if you remain professional. This should be a top priority to survive the call center life. However, I have also seen team leaders who are power tripping jerks, and there’s no sense in getting along with them. Just be a grown-up and do your job and believe in the power of karma.

Monday, February 07, 2011

TIPS ON - VITAMINS FOR CALL CENTER AGENTS



DISCLAIMER:  I am not endorsing any product, nor am I affiliated with any product mentioned in this post.  I also do not own a branch of "The Generics Pharmacy".  I am also not a doctor, albularyo nor a medical professional.  

1) Multivitamins


Working at night caused my health to spiral down down down (much like Jay Sean's song).  I also noticed that I got fevers and colds every other week.  After spending way too much on Decolgen and tissue, I finally decided to visit the doctor.

The good doctor then mentioned that call center agents are usually sickly -- this is because we lack sleep and have poor diets.  He then confirmed that since I had no allergies or health conditions, I should take multivitamins since it really helps the immune system.

I then asked the golden question, “anu po ba pinakamagandang multivitamin?”

And he answered, “kung ano gusto mo.” (Gusto ko sana batukan, kaso may edad na.)

I then patiently asked the Doctor to recommend the best multivitamin.  He then answered, "there is no such thing as the best multivitamin. Multivitamins vary and have different compositions, but taking any brand is better than nothing."

I then went to Mercury Drug and checked the  boxes of Clusivol, Centrum, Enervon, Revicon, Stresstabs etc.    Each multivitamin brand was somewhat similar, but varied with the mg of the vitamins.  Most had the average price of 9 Pesos per capsule, but Revicon Forte won the "cheap" award at 5 Pesos per capsule.

In the end, I decided to take Enervon-C since the jingle for "More Energy mas Happy" was running through my mind.

How about Generic Brands?
 

On my next check-up, I also asked my doctor about generic multivitamins.  He said that as long as it came from a reputable pharmacy, then generic vitamins would be fine -- so don't go buying generic vitamins from Manang Andelida's Botika or some Ermitanyo.

The doctor also mentioned that generic multivitamins may be less potent than the branded ones.  I then went to The Generics Pharmacy and got the generic brand for Clusivol.  I checked the package insert (small paper thing with the vitamin information) and found that the original Clusivol did have higher doses for vitamins "C" and "B".

And in the end, may it be generic or branded -- any multivitamin is better than none (for me at least).  Make sure that you just take one capsule a day or you may destroy your kidneys/liver.  Ask your doctor about it first if you have medical conditions -- otherwise, you might die and blame me.

Here's a link I found on the basics of Multivitamins:
http://www.helium.com/items/903010-the-abcs-of-multivitamins

2) Ascorbic Acid


The North American Dietary Reference Intake recommends 90 milligrams per day and no more than 2 grams (2,000 milligrams) per day source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_C

Ayan ah, kay Wikipedia na galing yan...di ko alam if totoo...

Unless the Multivitamins you take already has a large amount of Vitamin C (like Clusivol Power-C), you can still add vitamin C as a supplement (as long as it is within the proper dose).

Vitamin C can help the body in many ways, such as helping with infections, and the prevention of catching some viruses. However, as with all medicines, this should be taken with careful consideration.  Vitamin C can cause diarrhea or kidney stones if you are not careful.  So as usual, ask your doctor first.

I daily take a 250 mg vitamin C tablet on top of the multivitamins.  I use the brand Rhea from Mercury drug. It's only 150 pesos for 100 Tablets.



There’s also what we call Vitamin C supplements that are not acids (like Fern-C, Bewell-C, etc) http://www.fern-c.com/.
Di ako endorser nyan! It just seemed like an interesting read.

3) Sleeping supplements
 

A co-worker told me that Sleepasil did wonders for her.  I got curious and asked the smartest entity I know if Sleepasil was indeed beneficial or not. Google immediately told me that Sleepasil was a Melatonin based drug that can enhance sleep and was not addictive or habit forming.

I then went to Mercury and bought a Capsule.  I immediately took Sleepasil when I got home.  After 30 minutes, I was so drowsy that I fell down on the floor (exaggerated) and slept like a baby.  I woke up 6hours after, and I felt oddly more refreshed than usual.

I got more curious with this drug and I researched more about it.

Sleepasil contains melatonin and Wikipedia explained this to me, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melatonin - Melatonin is a natural Hormone in the body that tells you when it’s time to sleep.  Natural Melatonin seems to do wonders, it enables rest for the body, improves the memory, the immune system, etc.

Of course, I still asked my Doctor about it.  He then said that “Melatonin should be produced normally by the body, and he advises against using anything that was not natural.  He did tell me that Sleepasil was safe since it was just a food supplement.  But he definitely mentioned that taking a drug that you don’t need is not advisable --  So I should use it ONLY when I really have to.”

So if you really have no problems sleeping, then there's use taking Sleepasil.  I only take this supplement IF I was desperate for sleep.

For more info on Sleepasil: http://sleepasil.com/

4) Other Food Supplements


I have tried most food supplements, Abs, Cran Uti, Circulan, Memo Plus gold.  Each seem to have it's own miraculous claim based on the commercials.  Some supplements really do help, some state that it's actually useless.  The bottom line for me is that -- even if you take all the supplements in the world -- NOTHING beats eating right, getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, controlling vices, and getting enough exercise.
 

Care to add your own vitamin related inputs?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

TIPS ON - GETTING A COLLEGE DEGREE WHILE BEING A CALL CENTER AGENT: PART 2


Once you make the decision to get a college/vocational degree, how do you actually accomplish it?  A typical call center agents salary is 15k, and there are other expenses -- is it really possible?

As I mentioned, I managed to work my way through college as a call center agent while providing for my siblings -- so that proves it's possible.

And here are some tips from my personal experiences.  This should help you in earning that degree.

1) Save money for tuition
First thing you need to do is make a budget plan.

Know where your money goes with every paycheck you receive.  Write every expense you make and be aware of every peso.  When you write your expenses, you become more aware of how much money you spend.

Immediately allocate a small amount of money every payday for your college tuition.  Saving little by little makes your money grow.

Try and open another account for your so called college fund so that you will get less tempted to withdraw your money from your main atm.

Save money when you can -- this includes walking short distances, bringing packed lunches (which will always be cheaper), and saying no to outings and gimiks.

2) Find schools with less tuition fees/deferred payments.

Lots of universities have lower tuition fees.  Be realistic and find a school like the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and transfer there if you can't continue to pay for your previous college.

You can also check out different colleges in your area -- community colleges are much cheaper than the famous schools.  It may not be Lasalle or Ateneo, but any school is better than none.

Some schools also offer deferred tuition fee payments.  AMA colleges have a 60k tuition fee that is payable in 1 year.  Explore different schools and find easy pay options.  Do not feel ashamed of asking for tuition schemes -- most schools already know how poor Filipino's are and have designed tuition/financial aid schemes.

3) Try the Open University system

I got my degree through the open university.

What you do is you enroll in a particular course, and you get modules that you may take home and answer at your own pace.  You get lessons and submit projects through the internet.  Exams are usually just once a semester at special venues.   Once you pass a certain subject-- you earn the corresponding units for your course. You also have the choice on how many subjects you will take per semester.

It took me years to get my degree but it was worth it.  The tuition at that time was 10k for one semester.

***Note that some Schools charge more for Open University enrollees since they target the working class undergraduates****

See this link for details on the Open University system in the Philippines:
http://en.wikipilipinas.org/index.php?title=Homeschooling_and_open_universities_in_the_Philippines

“Homeschooling and open universities have proliferated in the Philippines over recent years due to the ease of long-distance communication over the Internet and the rising cost of education and other resources. They permit study at the student’s own pace and allow a more flexible schedule that enables the student to pursue work or other interests while studying. Such programs are supported by Article IV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which decrees that quality education at every level should be made accessible to all Filipinos, including self-learning, independent, and out-of-school study programs.”
Source: WikiPilipinas

Other open universities in the country are below:

Cap College Philippines easily offers several undergraduate programs.
CAP- LEGASPI BUILDING
5th Floor, 149 Legaspi St., Legaspi Village,
1229 Makati City, Philippines
Tel Nos. : 812-6923; 810-9142; 892-6395
Fax No. : 818-0560
http://www.cap.com.ph/college/home.htm

The Up Open University system is where most of my friends graduated from, you can choose from a 2-year Associate’s degree course to a 4 year multimedia arts course.
UP Open University
Los Banos, Laguna
(049) 536-6001 to 06
Diliman Office 9207117
http://www.upou.org/

The Polytechnic university also offers distance education.
Just google their number
www.pup.edu.ph

My friends also mentioned this to me.

ASIAN INSTITUTE FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION
Address : Unit 302, Greenbelt Mansion, Perea St.
Legaspi Village Makati City
Metro Manila 1229
Telephone : (02) 810-0968 ; (02) 819-3286
Fax Number: (02) 813-0565

4) Apply in call centers with a College assistance program
Some call centers have college loan programs, they pay for your tuition or for a part of your tuition.  In return, you have to work for them for a certain number of years, or you pay the tuition fee via a percent of your salary.
Try to find a call center with this benefit, ask your friends or call the HR department.

*Sykes is one of the call centers with this type of program.*
http://www.sykes.com/careers/philippines.aspx
For inquiries, please call:
(Manila) - 02-8178781

5) Find extra sources of income
When you decide to study, you will need all the money you can get -- so start finding rackets and sidelines.  Have an Autoload business, or sell pastry.  You can also try selling items on Ebay.  You may also find a second job as long as it's easy.  Apply as a part time barista, or a waiter.  Be a home tutor or someone who washes cars.  Try to go for sales and be an Agent for Boardwalk or Avon.  Find legal ways to make money.  Do not sell drugs or sell your body just to get by in college.

***

All in all, earning a degree will be very difficult.  Sometimes, you will lose heart and will want to give up.  So remember that you are not alone and that a lot of us fellow pinoy agents have gotten college degrees while working as agents.  Some are still continuing to do it at this very moment.

I have a friend currently working at Convergys.  She works at night, and she goes to regular classes in the day.  She only gets about 5 hours of sleep, but she says it’s worth it.  She often jokes that she will sleep 8 hours everyday after she graduates.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TIPS ON - GETTING A COLLEGE DEGREE WHILE BEING A CALL CENTER AGENT: PART 1



Lot's of call center agents are undergrads, because the call center is the only industry that gives decent wages for undergraduates.

I am one of them -- my father passed away and I had to stop college and provide for my family.   The call center industry gave me chance to provide for my family, and save enough for college.

And after years I finally managed to get that degree.

So for those agents who dreams of getting a college degree, I have 4 words for you-- it can be done!  I did it, and so can you.

Here are some tips from my own personal experiences that I would like to share with you.

PART 1: What's the proper mindset?

1) It is not impossible to get a degree

It may be hard, but not impossible.  There may be lots of sacrifices along the way -- but you must always sacrifice something to gain something.

2) Make it a Goal - so have a deadline

Once you get that paycheck, you then start to think "why should I finish college when I'm already making money?"

You will then make up excuses like "I really can’t find the time to finish college.” or “It can’t be done in my current situation.” Or the classic, “It’s my goal to finish college, so sometime soon, I’ll find a way…”

Remember that "soon" is often equal to "too late".  Therefore, make it your goal to actually finish college.  A goal will always have a deadline -- so give yourself a hard date on when to actually accomplish this.

3) The call center is not a permanent career
I personally know how hard it is to motivate your self to finish college -- so realize that the call center industry is not a stable career.

I have been an agent for 4 years now and I can guarantee 100% that your position as an agent, team leader, quality analyst etc., is only as good as the next end of life of the account.    When the contract expires, or when the American companies decide to transfer the account to India, you need to find new work.
You may gain experience and apply for a new job based on your previous position -- but remember that you can also get replaced by the younger generation.  It's the naive and stupid who say that call center careers are forever.

So finish a degree/vocational/diploma course -- it will be safer in the future when you are a bit older.

4) Philippine companies measure you based on your educational attainment
As I mentioned, the older you get, the harder it is to get a job without a degree.

Get those rid of thoughts like -- “its not the education that counts but how capable and experienced you are.” 

This statement can be true for other countries (and for some lucky people).  But if you live in the Philippines, you get measured based on educational attainment.

5) Attaining a degree builds character
It shows that you faced the challenge and just did it.

It’s not really just the piece of paper that you get, but the struggle and the effort it takes for you to gain a degree will definitely build you as a person.

(Continued in Part 2)