When I Was Told I Should Be Fired Today

customer service

That’s right, this title says it all.  Today, I was told that I should be fired.

I am a customer service representative for an animal pharmaceutical company.  I work for at least eight hours a day, sometimes more, answering phone calls mostly consisting of employees of veterinary clinics or veterinarians placing an order for the products that we sell.  I would be willing to say that about 95% of the calls are great people.  Cheery, happy, pleasant, kind people who simply want to place their order and move on with their busy day.  However, there is that 5% of calls that don’t turn out quite that easy.

Today, I answered the phone and a veterinarian called to place an order for his clinic.  The call was going just fine; he was rolling through his list of items he needed and I entered them into our computer system.  It was a completely normal call until he asked me about a product that has been on an extreme shortage where only select veterinary clinics are allocated for a specific amount of the product.  When I informed him that he was only allowed one bottle of one size and two bottles of another size of this product, he became livid.  For a long approximately three minutes following my statement to him, I listened to him yelling at me how he is an older veterinarian having been in the business for many years and smart enough where if he was the CEO of the company I work for, he would fire every one of us due to the inconvenience we have caused his clinic and many others from the shortage of this one product.  I attempted to transfer him to one of my supervisors per his request but he hung up before I could complete the transfer.

I just chuckled to myself after the call.

That’s really all that could be done.  I didn’t feel angry at the veterinarian.  I didn’t feel like I should be fired for an issue that my position isn’t directly involved with and has no control over.  My feelings weren’t hurt.  I just laughed it off.

To anyone who may work in a similar situation, this is something we must face nearly every day.  It doesn’t matter if you are a cashier at Walmart, a bank teller, a restaurant server, or the CEO of a pharmaceutical company: learning how to work with people is a challenge.  It is something that is learned how to master a little bit more as time goes on.

The main rule of thumb to keep in mind here is to be as pleasant as possible, be confident in yourself and your work, and stay focused.  Some customers might get into your head to make you believe you are worthless at your job and even go as far as saying that you and all of your hard-working coworkers should be fired.  Be confident that you are an asset to the company you work for and that you come in to work every day with a positive mindset.  Shake off the negative comments and start fresh knowing that you are being the best you can be.

Needless to say, I am very much still employed and will walk into work tomorrow ready to take on my calls for the day.  I look forward to the 95% enjoyable calls, especially those who like to crack jokes and have fun on the call.  Working with people is as enjoyable as you allow it to be.  Stay positive and keep in mind that you are worth respect and worth being regarded as an exceptional employee.

 

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Back-to-real-life

Well, it’s that time again.

Blowout sales on backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils, three-ring binders, and lunch boxes are everywhere.  Oh, and don’t forget the back-to-school clothes.

For the first time ever, these sales don’t mean much to me.  Unless, of course, I have the urge or necessity to purchase some notebooks for myself or save some money on new clothes.  Otherwise, this widely celebrated back-to-school event that occurs annually is not one in which I am directly involved with this year.

I still don’t know if I believe it.

I don’t know if through all of these years I could truly picture myself as a graduate; an adult in the world.  School was all I had ever known and the schedule of the holiday breaks and tests to study for, papers to write, and speeches to prepare for were the norm.  I knew in the back of my mind that eventually I was going to finish high school, go to college, and then graduate.  I knew there was some end result I was working so hard to reach.

Now, I am there.

I have now taken on a new goal: continue to give myself something to work towards and look forward to.

All of these years in school I was always filled with the excitement of looking forward to my Thanksgiving Break, then Christmas Break, Spring Break, then finishing off the year, have a solid two or three months to relax, enjoy the Summer, make some money, catch up with friends and family, and then start all over again.  A new year, new teachers, new classes, and new people.  There was always so much to look forward to.  Despite how much I was enjoying myself and living in the moment, I always loved having a nice break from school to think about and make plans for myself.  I always loved, and was never ashamed to admit, being notified in college when the new class schedules were up so I can choose what classes I wanted to take for the following semester.  I was always eager to learn what teachers I was going to have and who was going to be in my new classes.

Well, none of that necessarily exists any more, at least for the present.  I have new desires, new needs, and new goals I want to work towards.  I haven’t exactly molded them into anything too specific but at least for now, this is what I have come up with:

  1. Become a waitress.
  2. Play my flute in an orchestra.
  3. Adopt a Great Dane.
  4. Get married.
  5. Have a family.
  6. Travel outside the country.
  7. Become more capable of holding a conversation in Spanish.

These goals are not by any means arranged in any order in which I would like to achieve them or their importance to me—they are merely objectives I want to reach.  They need some tweaking for sure and more thorough planning.  For example, I don’t exactly see myself arriving at the ripe age of 85 years old and realizing that I haven’t adopted a Great Dane, do so, and then find myself on the ground due to the giant thing trying to give me a hug.  Then when it comes time for the vet bills and dog food, my retirement fund begins to dwindle and my dream of adopting a Great Dane comes to an end.  Unless I somehow make it big with my orchestra gig.  Never say never, right?  I thank you for the support I know you are sending my way.

I urge all of you out there in the real world, no matter how old you are and what stage of your life you are in—whether you are 18 and just graduated high school, or 70 years old in retirement—continue to create something to look forward to.  Embrace your interests, your love of life, your curiosity, and eagerness to learn something new.  Make the most of life—it is such a beautiful thing!

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Taking a Stab at the Real World

So as a newly, fresh-out-of-college graduate, I have come to a realization that I feel like I should have known before this.  Maybe I did know it but it didn’t quite come to me since it wasn’t reality yet.  Now that I have had a chance to really sit back and think about my current life, I am pleased with what I have come to acknowledge.

Since I was 15 years old, I have had a paying job.  It all started at Lennie’s Flower Shop in New Milford, Connecticut.  I was a “Floral Assistant”.  As a high school student with a paying job I felt pretty awesome about myself.  I could go out and buy myself a coffee at Dunkin Donuts and pay for it myself.  I could go to Kohl’s and buy myself a new shirt and didn’t have to depend on anyone to supply me the money for it.  It felt great.

As I moved from job to job as part of my high school’s agricultural job program as well as the employment program in college, I held many titles from cashier, veterinary technician assistant, farm hand, garden assistant, and even marketing intern.

Ah, there we go: the “I” word.  As an intern at Watson, Inc., a food ingredient company, I thoroughly loved my job.  I learned more about my love for writing and communications and was pushed in a clearer path of what I wanted to do with my career.  This internship was a perfect fit for me.

As much as I have loved multiple positions that I have held and am thankful for every experience I had the opportunity to have, there is something about my job now that is so refreshing.

With my education and professional background that I have established for myself, I’m never going to have to be “the intern” or “the college kid” ever again.  All of what I have learned from my education and past job positions have acted as the perfect platform I needed to successfully reach this point.  I am now hired at Zoetis as a Customer Service Representative and with the company being as big as it is, there are endless opportunities to move around in the company to explore what positions best match my interests and skills.  With this position I can use my college degree straight out of school as well as skills that I have only learned through my past jobs such as people skills, responsibility, punctuality, and professionalism.

I am so happy to be where I am at right now.  Beginning my career directly in my field immediately out of college and being completely independent is definitely exciting, terrifying, and a relief all at the same time but I am looking forward to what is to come.

To all of the recent high school and college graduates out there, good luck in all that you set forth to do!  It won’t necessarily be easy to achieve your goals but it is all worth it in the end. The struggle and hardships we encounter only make us stronger.

 

Pigs and Graduation

PigAs a writer I feel like I have some kind of obligation or expectation to write about the end of college and how it feels to know I am entering the real world.  That’s all good to think about and there is so much I could reflect on but all the piece would be filled with is clichés and generic ideas such as “I will never forget these past four years” or “there are so many people I want to thank” and of course the “I am going to miss all of my friends so much but I know we will still keep in touch!”.  Instead, I think what is more intriguing is to write about pigs.

I love pigs.  Many people know this about me but if you don’t, I absolutely love pigs.  I don’t care if they’re fat, if they’re lean, or if they’re rolling in their own filth.  Pigs are one of the smartest creatures on the planet with such unique personalities.  Once I began my journey in the animal science field, I discovered my love for pigs.

Delaware Valley College provided me the opportunity to watch piglets being born.  I was so close to witnessing such an event at my high school but I was literally minutes too late for the sow that was farrowing at the time.  I was so disappointed.  However, last semester gave me the gift of watching new lives being started.

We kind of live our lives like pigs.  I suppose one could use this analogy for any animal or living thing, but by God I am going to use pigs.  Once these incredibly small creatures enter the world they somehow have the natural instincts to find their mother’s teat and begin to nourish their bodies.  I find this unbelievable!  As soon as they break the umbilical cord, they lift themselves right up on to their feet and find their way to nourishment.  I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell was not capable of such a task when I was born.

When we start college, we begin as piglets.  We are thrown into this unknown world and are left to fend for ourselves.  The beginning may prove to be rough, but once we break free and learn the ways of where we are, everything falls into place.  We have the “small piglets” who may struggle and aspire to be as successful as their “littermates” and then we have the muscular, rugged ones who take on college head-on from the start.

Piglets are pretty tough little guys.  Let me tell you, they are poked and prodded by everything under the sun as soon as they are born.  Within the first several days of being alive, they receive several injections, their ears are notched for identification, their teeth are clipped so as to not harm their mother or other pigs, and some farmers even dock their tails.  Not to mention, most of the male piglets, well, you know, some of them just aren’t that lucky.  Despite everything that we humans do to these piglets, they bounce right back.  They are back in their pen and running around as if nothing happened.  Truly, it sounds like a lie, but they are tough.

Throughout college, we are thrown around and feel beaten up at times.  We might get a bad grade on a test, we could have fights with friends, we could suffer financially, and have our heart broken.  We could experience medical problems, we may have family issues, we miss our loved ones at home, and suffer confusion about 99% of the time as to what we want to do with our lives after we graduate.  But look at us now!  We are graduating.  We made it.  We survived the poking and prodding and are resilient!

Pigs live a pretty great life.  They have people to feed them, clean up after them, and know what to do if they are sick or injured.  No matter what, they always have someone to depend on.  An infection?  They are given antibiotics.  Feeders are empty?  Someone refills them.  One breaks out of its pen?  Someone is there to guide it back home.

Throughout college we always have someone there who cares.  Particularly at Delaware Valley College, the small size of the school truly allows for a more personable experience.  I have had numerous professors and staff who have been there for me when I didn’t know what to do.  Life was sending me in directions I couldn’t understand.  During my job hunt this semester there is one occasion that made me so thankful for the ability to have such a connection to faculty and staff at this school.  I had approached my professor, Dr. O’Connor, one day about how my job search was coming along and we discussed my interests and the types of jobs I was looking for.  As always, he gave me very helpful advice and I walked away from our conversation with another jolt of confidence that I could be successful.  Later that day, I received an e-mail from him with links to several job openings to at least seven different companies.  I sat back in my chair and couldn’t think of anything except how thankful I was to have such wonderful people in my life—especially a professor who had such a chaotic schedule to begin with and found the time to focus on one student to offer help for a future career.  I could write a novel of how many people have given me this special attention throughout my job search but they know who they are and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Eventually, piglets turn into full-grown pigs and live out their lives.  They are given the proper nutrition and environments to become what they are supposed to be.  As students, we are provided the tools and resources for who we will become.  After college, we will follow the path that is meant for us…much like pigs will follow their path…whether it is to be chosen to breed or end up on our dinner plates–a future and a path to follow nonetheless.

I am looking forward to where I will go in my future.  I wish all of my classmates and everyone who is graduating best of luck in all that you do.  And of course, don’t be afraid to root around in the mud and get a little dirty to find what you want.