Positive Interview

Today the big event was an interview at SMCI, one of the two employment agencies that I was refereed to by Amgen. In order for me to get back there for any contract work, I need to go through one of said agencies.

I think it went very well. I’m hoping that if not with Amgen, they’ll be able to get me some work very soon and with my experience and background, they said they shouldn’t have trouble getting me gigs at $35-$50/hour. I really hope that’s true—and soon.

In the meantime, I guess I’d better get busy searching on my own. Things are getting down to the wire. I did finally open my eBay store, though, but I’ve got to get serious about stocking it.

Sailing Off into the Sunset…

Well, today was my last day at Princess Cruises.

“WOW! That was fast”, you might say.
Yes, it was indeed. I enjoyed myself there and it is indeed a good company to work for, but the world of a Call Center Rep just wasn’t for me. My object for working there—to get “on the inside” and find a position in their training department—turned out to be an impossibility. It didn’t look like there would be any positions in that group anytime in the near future.
So, on my first day back of the new year (January 2nd) I handed in my resignation. I must say it came as a slight shock to my supervisor—who was in point of fact transitioning to a new position herself. My replacement supervisor was out on extended vacation, and I actually didn’t meet her until today—and ended up knowing her for less than an 8-hour shift!
The people I worked with there were great, and I’m kind of sad to be departing so quickly, but that’s life. Hopefully our paths will cross again in future.
I’ll now move onto other adventures that will bring me closer to the kind of career and life I envision.

Thank Your for Calling Princess…

I’ve finished my first week actually taking calls on the phone. Well, really only for half days in the morning, but still…

On Tuesday we “double-jacked” with an experienced agent in the morning, but actually took calls on our own for one hour—it was surprisingly scary, too. Trying to call up everything you’ve learned in that moment a real, live person is on the phone with a real, live cruise booking that you don’t want to mess up. My partners were both awesome, though, and I learned a lot and they were right there to help me.

Then Wednesday through today we actually answered calls from 8:30 AM to lunchtime on our own. The first day was a bit nerve-wracking, but not as bad as I’d eared, and by Friday it seemed like old hat. I was lucky in that I never received a call from an irate customer or Travel Agent (knock on wood…). I did get some interesting ones like the call that came in 4 minutes before break time and lasted an hour-and-a-half.

The most interesting thing is that almost every call was something new and different. We’ve been working on the Reservation Support side which meant handling existing bookings by making changes, taking payments and so forth. I’ve only actually booked one new cabin (in that marathon call) so far. While it’s all new and a bit intimidating, I think I handled myself very well. Our Support Desk, Supervisors and Customer Relations people I’ve needed to call have all been helpful. Also, we’ve all been seated together in the same area—which they call nesting—and many of the same experienced agents and supervisors were right there walking the floor to help us out if we raised our hand. Made things not quite so scary.

So next week, we handle calls from 8:30-3:30 then the week after we get assigned to our real supervisors, desks and departments and take it from there. I hope I get to go to the Reservations Sales side.

Final Exam

So, yesterday was our final exam in class. Seems weird since we still have two more weeks of training, but oh well. I guess it’s because starting Tuesday, we’re actually answering calls—yikes! So the rest of our time is really OJT.

Anyway, the test was in two parts: written and practical (i.e. inside the reservations system). I’m happy to report that I got 100% on the written portion! The practical won’t be as good, though, because I know I missed a couple of things. It’s kind of tough in a simulation-type test having to play the part of both sides of the conversation and still remember to get everything in. I’m certain I’ll pass, though.

Last night’s gaming didn’t come off at all, so I spent the evening at home after getting back a bit late from an errand I had to do anyway. Gave me a chance to relax and sleep in.

Then—as if to add insult to injury—this morning, it actually rained here. Oh sure, Monday the whole valley is burning to a crisp and now we get rain.

LAST In My Class?!

Actually, that’s not really as ominous as it sounds.

Knowledge wise, I feel quite good about my work. I’ve scored 100 on almost every quiz we’ve taken—I only slipped up twice with a 95 and 96 and also only a 99 on the midterm. The final is tomorrow and while I expect it to be a challenge, I think I’ll be fine. It’s not exactly rocket science we’re talking about and as long as you are methodical and have some attention to detail, it’s easy.

The last part was when we drew for seniority. Since people are hired as a group on the same date, in order to establish seniority in the company, everyone draws numbers out of a hat. I drew 28 of 28. It’s mostly important to full-time staff because they can select their shifts based on this seniority number; since I’m part-time, I actually already knew my schedule (Sunday 0600-1430, Monday-Wednesday 0500-1400). It was still a bit of a shock and I suppose could affect me as I continue my career with Princess. Oh well…

Also, the other day the manager of the Direct Desk and Cruise Vacation Planning departments came into our class and explained what they do. They too are call centers, but primarily deal directly with passengers rather than with travel agents. the CVP group are the ones who actually call out to passengers expressing interest in cruising through brochure order, website forms, etc. I decided to apply for CVP because I think it’d suit my skills and personality better. The starting wage is actually a bit higher than I’m at in reservations, plus they actually pay commission on cruises booked above and beyond salary. I’m hoping to hear back from them for an interview.

Of course, a drawback is that they are located in the new Gateway Plaza buildings up near the 5 freeway, so my commute would be extended tenfold—that is, just over a mile. I’d have to start riding my bike to work. I’ll be sure to let you know how my final goes, then it’s actually up to the reservations floor to take calls starting next week!