Being an intern and eventually getting a job restored my hope for the future. I feel like I can again pursue bigger dreams.
Bagong Silangan is a city notorious as a squatters' area. It used to comprise mostly farmlands rich in rice produce, but urbanization efforts forced informal settlers to relocate in the city. Years after, the city mayor granted rights of land to its residents. Gawad Kalinga then entered the picture - a non-profit organization with a goal to alleviate poverty in the Philippines. The organization implemented infrastructure and community development programs, built new homes, renovated roads, and constructed communal facilities. One of the families that benefited from these programs is that of Salie Malagueno.
Salie had a fairly happy childhood. She grew up in a simple home, her father a construction worker who made just enough income to get by. Third in a family of nine siblings, she would wake up early in the morning to walk with her younger brothers and sisters to a nearby public school. Salie enjoyed working on school projects and learning new things. She maintained good grades throughout high school, but broke her streak of good marks when her family was faced with realities she could not control.
On Salie's last year in high school, the construction company her father worked for lost key projects that left their casual workers jobless. Her father asked her to skip college for a year because their remaining resources had to go to her sister's education for her final year in an architecture course. Salie agreed yet persisted in learning by taking low-cost computer classes for only Php400, roughly $10.
However, Salie's persistence was no fight against fate. Her eldest sister got pregnant before graduation and her family felt like their hard work, including the pooled income of their extended relatives, had gone to waste. Salie's parents lost hope and no longer wanted to support her college education. "I was so devastated. It was difficult to let go of my own dreams to attend college and finish a computer course. I remembered crying every night and being so close to running away from home," Salie said.
After struggling with her circumstances for a few months, Salie got back to her feet and turned things around. With an enterprising personality, she launched a small business selling snacks and toiletries by the window of their living room. She asked her father to spare his treat to her birthday meal and instead give her the money for capital. She got Php2,500 (around $60) and purchased items she could resell as well as raw materials for cooked meals she made with her mother. She opened her small store and spent most of her days entertaining customers, replenishing stock, and collecting her neighbors' payables.
Salie's luck continued to change when one day, she crossed paths with her cousin who encouraged her to apply to a training program called Careers for Street Youth. Before she knew it, she got accepted and began attending classes. Salie made the most out of 10 days of intensive training, "We had English training and computer classes. We were also taught time management, budgeting, and other things that will help us in our jobs." Salie graduated the program with a class of 27 with whom she sought jobs in the outsourcing sector.
After several unsuccessful interviews with different companies, Salie landed her big break when she was accepted as an intern in MicroSourcing. She was assigned to be an intern for an AU-based MicroSourcing client called Minimovers. She assisted in screening Australian job applicants to help source for employees needed in the client's local operations. She was also trained in data processing and lead generation. In no time, Salie grew comfortable in a casual environment that allowed her to start building a professional career.
"My first few days in MiniMovers were nerve-wracking," Salie recalls. Because she was to work alongside foreigners, their General Manager Tatia and Training Manager Sean, Salie made it her goal to improve her English skills. Whenever she was out of words in conversations with Tatia, Salie would joke, "Just you wait Tatia, I will someday be able to speak straight in English."
Simultaneous with on-the-job training, Salie also attended English classes and other courses to develop computer skills - Internet research, MS Office, and Photoshop. Salie's favorite was their weekly English class. Every week, she got excited writing essays and delivering speeches, which she also used as an avenue to share her experiences and insights. Her confidence and knowledge in grammar and vocabulary improved, "Before, my voice would crack whenever I had to speak in English, now I can sustain a conversation with our Australian visitors."
Salie was very happy in MiniMovers, "The people in MiniMovers are all very nice, especially Tatia. During our internship, she'd always check in on us and ask us if we're okay. Our supervisors would guide us in our work. Whenever we had questions, they helped us right away. They accommodated our special needs like extra time we needed to prepare for English training."
Everyone in MiniMovers took notice of how hard Salie worked. She shares the remarks of her colleagues, "They ask me if I'm planning on stealing their jobs because I arrive very early in the office and leave very late." Salie works hard but she was enjoying so much she barely felt she was at work. "I have grown to really love my job. It's like my body craves to be in the office. On Sundays or when I'm at home, I start missing MicroSourcing and our well-decorated MiniMovers office."
After six months of internship, MiniMovers offered Salie full-time employment as a Data Analyst. She was placed on a month-long probation as she is evaluated with the same standards as any other team member. Naturally, Salie was delighted, but true to her humble nature, she celebrated with simple street food and orange juice.
Salie sees her employment as a way to support her family. She contributes to their daily meal expenses and allows herself to splurge on salary day. "I want my family to experience good food. When I get my allowance, we enjoy sumptuous boxes of pizza at home." When asked what she has purchased for herself, Salie recalled starting work with borrowed shoes and bought her very own pair on her first paycheck. Ultimately, Salie's plans for her income revolve around her family. "I will work hard so that all my siblings can finish school. I don't want them to experience what I experienced. When I was applying for jobs, I felt so small compared to my counterparts who graduated with fancy college degrees. I don't want my brothers and sisters to ever look down on themselves when they begin looking for work. I want them to have what they need to lead better lives."
Looking forward to building her career, Salie sees her future in the BPO industry. "I hope to still be in MiniMovers years from now. If that's not possible, I hope to stay in MicroSourcing. I see older people in the company and hope to grow up here, too. It is where I started. Before I came here, I thought my lack of college education will relegate me to simple jobs and I'll never be able to work in a real office. Being an intern and eventually getting a job restored my hope for the future. I feel like I can again pursue bigger dreams."