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This Business Operations Specialist who works in a call center for Dish Network shares the challenges he has faced being a Middle Eastern man working in the United States. He is encouraged at his job by how quickly good workers are promoted and given additional responsibility. He also explains how taking a call that lasted until after midnight resulted in him being awarded employee of the month.

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: I work as a business operations specialist at one of the fastest growing Fortune 500 companies, Dish Network LLC. It is the second largest pay TV provider after Direct TV. This is my third year working at this post. I will describe myself as honest, friendly and ambitious.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: I am male and have Middle Eastern roots. Yes, there are times when I faced discrimination but I feel that the only method to deal with the situation is to confront others politely. I remember one such incident while taking an immigration interview. The immigration officer was quite rude. I responded with a smiling face, which made the officer realize his mistake. Later, the officer helped me pass my immigration test.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: I have the primary responsibility of controlling the call flow at my company's international call centers. My duties also include coordinating with managers, team leaders and technicians to ensure timely resolution of problems. I want others to understand that working in a call center does not mean taking calls only, as there are various other positions that have great advancement opportunities.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: I will rate my job satisfaction as 6. I feel that the current wage in call centers is very low as compared to similar positions in other industries.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: The best thing that I like about my job is career growth. I have seen my seniors graduating to manager level within a very short time span of less than a year. Several of my superiors have become head of their call centers in less than 10 years. If you are dedicated, then there are very few careers that provide such an explosive career path.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: If you ever get a job in call center, make sure that you try to resolve complaints without worrying about the grading from quality assurance department. In fact, QA departments in all call centers look for a percentage of call resolutions instead of the time it takes to accomplish a task.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: To be honest, I never imagined that I would work in a call center. I needed a part-time job to fund my college degree that prompted me to start working as a call center agent. If I could go back, I would love to start as a full time employee because it provides more rewards and additional opportunities for career growth. Currently, I am a full time employee reaping all the great benefits.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: Do not hesitate to ask questions if you are not sure about how to perform a specific job. Actually, I was given the added responsibility of opening tickets for new hires so that management could allot new hires their work space. I did not know how to open tickets for new hires therefore I kept on delaying the task. Eventually, I ended up messing up everything. I was given a warning letter that taught me to ask questions every time I am not sure.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: School is a learning experience. Outside of classroom, I have learned that there is an added responsibility because our jobs directly impact many lives. Therefore, we need to be more vigilant in whatever we do outside school.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: The strangest thing that ever happened to me was getting a call from my home on the customer hotline when I was a customer service agent. It was a surprise but my job duties required me to treat my family members just as I would treat any other customer.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: My job starts at 9 am in the morning. Usually, I leave my home half an hour earlier. When I started my job, I was given very odd timings that required me to stay until 10 pm. Just two months into my new job, I was required to take an important international call, which took almost two and half hours. By the time I left, it was already past midnight. The next day, the quality assurance department listened to the call and admired my spirit to assist the customer. Soon, I was given the employee of the month award.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: I relish the opportunity to resolve issues that most others are reluctant to tackle. It gives me great satisfaction to exceed expectations of my co-workers. In contrast, I never liked taking on tasks that do not come with training on how to accomplish the goal. I feel that training plays an important role in providing good customer service. If companies are unable to train their staff, then they should make sure to supplement employee efforts with ongoing training sessions.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: Working in a call center can be quite hectic. It is a very stressful job that requires working at odd hours and sometimes on weekends. The only way to maintain a comfortable healthy work-life balance is to climb up the corporate ladder, because senior management jobs seldom require managers to work on holidays and weekends.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: The average salary range for a business operations specialist in a call center industry is roughly between $24,000 and $36,000 per year. This salary is barely enough to sustain a comfortable lifestyle. I have to work overtime to make extra income. Luckily, overtime rates are about twice as much as the original rates.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: Vacation time in my company depends on the cumulative experience. So far, I am allowed 3 weeks of vacation in a calendar year. Taking into account high stress levels at this job, I think 3 weeks is not enough.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: My company requires at least an Associate degree. Preference is given to candidates holding Bachelors degrees. At least one year call center experience is necessary to work as a business operations specialist.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: Working at a call center is not for everyone. This field of work requires working long hours. Sometimes employees are expected to work on holidays and weekends. Similarly, starting salary may not be compatible with related professions. Despite these drawbacks, there are opportunities for rapid career advancement.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: In five years, I would like to be a potential candidate for the post of General Manager of Operations. This is my short term goal, which can provide me the opportunity to access top level jobs including Director and Vice President Operations.