I recently shared a meal with a few young people to discuss self-fulfilling prophecies and their impact. Interestingly I found that none of them deemed themselves as professionals nor did they view themselves as having careers. (These were individuals in the contact center industry.)
“This is a means to an end,” said Mbali a call center agent.
She joined the contact center industry with the intention of raising capital to fund her university studies. Her tone in trivializing the contact center industry made me lose interest in what her original career aspiration was. Her reality came when she, unfortunately, lost her mother and inadvertently became the bread winner. She's been a call center agent for the past 14 months and wants to “break free from it.” The hindrance to that move is that she has no qualifications for any other field nor is she experienced in anything else either than customer care.
dictionary.com describes a profession as something someone does to earn a living. A job is a paid position for regular employment. A career is an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.
To Mbali and the rest of the table:
You don't seem to understand that your intentions determine whether you have a job or career. Opportunities to progress are in abundance in the service industry. You just to need to approach them with a clear plan.
BusinessTech in 2014 reported that more than 2,000 call centers across South Africa employ over 225,000 people – 175,000 of which deal directly with customers.
The call center industry in the country was expected to grow at 15%, annually. In Africa, it was anticipated that 5,000 more call centers would pop up in the next five years.
It's been three years since that article was published. How much do you think the industry has contributed to South Africa's GDP?
The age groups you find in contact centers, the industry helps to create employment for school leavers who have little to no work experience and who may not be able to afford a Berkeley education. Case in point Mbali.
Does this mean they have no chance of increasing their earnings potential? Transforming their lives and pursuing their dreams? Not! In the words of Olivia Pope and Cyrus Beene stop being “little b$#ch babies.”
The truth is everyone has a sad story. You're not that special. "If you hang around a barbershop long enough you are bound to get a haircut."
You are here, now what?
On your journey to securing a seat at the table understand that no one cares what you're going through. What matters is what you're doing while you're there because the tail of hardship is only inspirational and celebrated when it's supported by triumph.