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The Call Centre industry is still relatively new to Canadians. The term Call Centre has become more widely used in the past few years, but words such as Telemarketing, Tele-Fundraising, and Sales still persevere, as do the negative connotations associated with them. Yet Call Centre careers are no longer the dead-end, low-paying jobs they once were. The Call Centre industry has changed rapidly over the past few years and is quickly becoming the stepping stone for future careers in business.
With over 600 Call Centres in the Greater Toronto Area, companies are operating 24-hours, 7 days a week to keep up with the heavy competition. Recruiters have had to look beyond the traditional resources they once used to staff these round-the-clock businesses. Many Call Centres have realized that students are an excellent resource to help meet their staffing needs.
Tony Warr, Marketing and Operations Manager at Interactive Media Corporation, says, "about 75% of our current Call Centre team members are students. They are dedicated to the company, flexible in their shift availability and have the opportunity to make a decent salary. Students in turn are provided with the opportunity for continuous learning and to gain team-building skills. They have many opportunities within the organization and basically get the chance to direct the paths of their own careers."
Companies such as Interactive Media Corporation offer a variety of entry-level opportunities for students. Call Centres have a wide variety of clients in areas such as business, consumer, government, manufacturing, retail and non-profit. The positions available can range from order taking, help desk, and market research to data collection and data management. With the abundance of varied shifts, flexible start times and the opportunity for extra hours, it's no wonder that Call Centres are quickly becoming the starting place of choice for students.
Rachel Hindrea, a part-time student at the University of Toronto, agrees. "The hours are flexible and it suits my schedule. I don't get bored. There are different things to deal with on a daily basis rather than standing behind a cash register." Rachel balances her part-time studies with a full-time career at Wunderman Cato Johnson's Call Centre as an inbound customer service agent for Lincoln Mercury. Rachel believes that a career in the Call Centre industry provides a firm grounding in the business field. "It's good to know as many aspects of an industry as possible. I have gained more skills working here than I would have working in retail. I also enjoy the social aspect of it. You get to work with your friends next to you and almost everyone is around the same age. Socially, it's great."
Angela Prashar, Project Manager at Wunderman Cato Johnson, admits, "up to 80% of my recruits are students. Having started here as a student myself, I'd say it was the perfect part time job". Angela started her career as an inbound customer service agent and has, within 4 years, gone on to manage the Lincoln Mercury account in Wunderman Cato Johnson's Call Centre. Angela chose a Call Centre position when she was a student because it provided her with a flexible schedule, a pleasant working environment and gave her the opportunity "to learn things I wouldn't learn in school. It has taught me professionalism and how to speak to people. It really gives you the skills you need out in the workplace and it looks better on a resume than most other student jobs do."
As the Call Centre industry is still new and rapidly changing, students like Rachel and Angela, have chosen to grow their skills within the industry. The Canadian education system has also noticed an increase in interest in the Call Centre industry. Several schools are now offering full-time accredited courses in Call Centre training. One of these schools is Centennial College, which is offering courses in their Call Centre Training Program. Centennial states that these courses were offered, "in response to direct employment demand". The College also has a co-op program which allows students to spend part of their time working directly in a Call Centre. Centennial College has had the vision to surpass other established schools by offering students the opportunity to learn and "graduate with skills that will open doors to a booming industry."
Aside from the Training Program currently offered at Centennial College, many other areas of study can successfully translate into positions within the Call Centre industry. Many Call Centres recruit students from the Computer Programming, Web Base Design, and Graphic Design fields. Canadian businesses in general have become more reliant on computer technology. Call Centres often hire students from such disciplines or even entry level Computer Programming or Technical Support positions. Students in Business, Marketing, or Accounting would also do well to apply for Call Centre positions. Some of the smaller to mid-size Call Centre's manage their Marketing and Financial needs on site and this can provide excellent ground-level opportunities for students in these fields. Even studies in the areas of Social Work, Education, and Anthropology can lead to opportunities as these areas of study concentrate on the dynamics of human relationships and social interaction: a necessity when it comes to successfully interacting with internal or external clientele.
Call Centres are currently one of the fastest growing sectors in North America. Whether you're interested in a career in business, or simply looking for an interesting part-time job, consider applying to a Call Centre!