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I have a degree but work at a call centre – and other job market rude awakenings

by: Mbulelo Roto - 30 August 2016

Call centreWhen you’re in university, you are sold the dream that when you graduate, you’ll immediately land your dream job and have a nice life. But in the real world, it’s a bit different. We spoke to a few young people who are doing jobs they didn’t see themselves doing.

“I’m in retail, dealing with rude customers and convincing people to buy stuff,”

“I’m the girl that dreamed of working in finance, dealing with numbers and financial reports. I studied mathematical sciences at UJ, but right now, I’m in retail, dealing with rude customers and convincing people to buy stuff, which is not my thing. I always have to smile even when I don’t want to. Sometimes I’ll be moody at work, but because it’s customer service I have to pull a happy face for the sake of customers.” – Lehlogonolo Monini (22) from Braamfontein, who works as a store assistant.

“It’s stressful to prepare food for customers”

“I became a sushi chef after completing my BCom degree. To settle for a job that’s not in line with my career path was harder than the challenges I faced to obtain my qualification. It’s a job where you just can’t afford to make mistakes; every order must be perfect and make sure the customer is satisfied. Plus you have to work from Monday to Sunday.” – Anonymous.


“Doing sales was a good experience”

“I never thought I would end up in sales, but funny enough I enjoyed it. At first, I felt like my BCom degree had been thrown out of the window, but I’m now working as a digital marketing manager. As much as it was not in line with my career path, I started liking the job.” – Sizwe Mdladla from Johannesburg


“Capturing rental and electricity payments all day is just tiring”

“I see myself as a nerd. Like seriously, I studied computer programming because I was always fascinated by programming language, coding, numbers and things like software development, starting my own app and designing websites. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan. My work involves capturing rental and electricity payments all day. It’s boring. I mean I’m doing the same thing every day. I feel like I’m not learning anything new or being creative. I want to be designing websites for artists.” – Nkosana Mthembu (25) from Tembisa who now works as a web designer.

My experience

As for me, after graduating with a BA degree in corporate communication, I expected to end up with a good job at the SABC or eTV. But life had other plans for me because I ended up working at a call-centre, selling loans to angry clients. Every day I had a target of 13 sales. I don’t remember ever making anything close to eight sales a day though. I had to just look at my name on the scoreboard, with three to four sales a day, and it made me feel hopeless. This is because not meeting your target meant getting paid half of your salary. So I had to stress about transport money and putting food on the table at home all the time. I’m currently a content producer.