Hey guys! So I’ve already spoken about life in Portugal, but I wanted to share my experiences with my employer while I was over there. It’s been over a year since I was employed by them, so I wanted to reflect on everything. This is going from the application stages, through to getting there, and then leaving.
The Application and Confirmation
So in May 2018, I was headhunted by a representative of MGI Recruitment, which is a recruitment agency in Ireland that focuses on international vacancies. They had found my CV on a job site, and wanted to put forth the opportunity to me. I was told about a company that was looking for an English-speaking booking agent for an international hotel chain and mentioned that accommodation would be sorted by the company if I was successful. I’ll tell you now that I was not in the best states of mind, and I had had a massive argument with the parents the day before. I was at Connor’s house when I got the email, and I’m not sure what came over me at that moment in time (to be fair, Connor was also encouraging me to find out more), but I responded to the email asking for more information.
The woman was absolutely lovely and offered to chat with me about the role and what was on offer for me if I decided to apply. So we had a little chat, and she mentioned that she would send me an information pack, which she did, pretty promptly too. It outlined what Teleperformance did, and all that they had to offer, and the project that I would be working on (due to client confidentiality I cannot state the identity of the client, only a description, as that was disclosed in my first correspondence with her).
I can discuss the Atlantic Experience for you though. The Atlantic Experience is their exclusive relocation programme, eligible for those living over 100km away. It’s done so that they’re able to bring in international employees for different projects. It includes flights reimbursed after 9 months of successful integration, and annual free flights to visit home. Also included was a pick-up from the airport to the apartment, or temporary accommodation if my room was not ready – this was free (yay). The Atlantic Experience also takes care of the legal paperwork, which regards things like social security and obviously the residency – this is done to make the moving process a lot smoother, and it definitely worked. I would have to have done far much for myself if it weren’t for this programme.
Among the information pack was a schedule of events over the course of the year – including information on activities and parties that are held by Teleperformance, as well as information about Lisbon and the cost of living in Portugal in general.
Once I read through the information pack, it felt surreal that this opportunity was presented to me. I’d always wanted to live abroad, but I’d always seen myself moving somewhere like Japan and teaching English to one-to-one students. But this was still an experience that I wanted to at least have a go at applying for – the worst that could happen was that I would be turned down for the role. After all, it was a job, and it was abroad. The wanderlust I was experiencing at this point was through the goddamn roof.
So I applied. Obviously.
The next step was the online test. This mainly involved being able to write in English, as the systems that they use in Teleperformance are in English. The same goes for any applicant, even if they aren’t from any English-speaking country. With me being a writer and naturally good with English, it was very standard.
So I passed that test, and I was selected to have a phone interview. My representative was amazing – she helped me through some of the questions that might come up in the interview and allowed me to have feedback on some of the answers that I was giving.
I have to say that I was nervous going into the interview, and I just went with it. The one question that I was told is unlikely to come up, came up. But I managed to pull it off with an answer. I was told that I would take part in roleplay the next day, and I was given the information that I would need in order to successfully take the call, including an example call. So I studied hard. I wrote a basic script of what I could say, and I rehearsed my opening and my tone of voice.
The next day, I got an early call, which ended up being the roleplay. Having already had everything set up prior, I was ready to take the call, so it didn’t matter that the call was early. I launched into the call and pretty much sold the information that I had on the file.
I had to wait a while to hear back from the roleplay, because of the Irish Bank Holiday, but then on the 6th June, I got a call from Kathlene, who asked if I’d heard anything back from Teleperformance about the interview. I said I hadn’t (which was true, although I’d expected Kathlene to give me the news either way), and then she proceeded to congratulate me, and that I’d got the job. We discussed the terms of my apartment renting, that I would be able to arrive up to one week before the start of training. I tell you something, the reality didn’t sink in for a while, and I was nervous as hell. I cried when I said to Connor ‘I got the job! I got the job! I’m going to Portugal! Oh God, I’m going to Portugal!’
Actually Getting There & Starting
I had to prepare everything. Flights, getting to the airport, boarding passes, you name it! Everything Portugal-side was being taken care of by Teleperformance, so I felt reassured. I was glad that I chose 31st July as my starting date, as opposed to 30th June. I felt that I wouldn’t have been ready for the earlier date, plus then it gave me the chance to spend Connor’s birthday with him as my last day in the UK.
It very quickly came around to 27th July, my departure date. I gave myself the later starting date to get everything prepared. The worst thing about the day was perhaps the flight delays when in Dublin, but they at Teleperformance was understanding, and I had the welcome by the Welcome Team – the person I had was called Ruben. I don’t particularly remember much of the conversation on the way to the flat, as I was exhausted from being up most of the day and travelling. But he discussed with me the essentials, such as how they were going to help me with my residency, as well as house rules.
The apartment itself in Lumiar was very white. I’m not usually fond of white decor, but I understand why the walls were white – the heat in the middle of summer is awful. I met my flatmates at that time – Junior and Tony. I actually remember having bouts of crying because everything came at such a shock. I missed Connor to bits, but I knew that I was going to do something great.
On the Monday after, I made my way to the Teleperformance building. It’s absolutely massive, and is the big building near the Entre Campos Metro – you’ll know it when you see it. The training floors are actually below the ground floor, and the signal down there is terrible – not that you’re encouraged to use your phone while training.
Training is dependant on your project and your language sector – so for example, the Dutch trainees will have the training covered in both Dutch and English, because all of the systems are in English as standard. My trainer was called Stewart – and bless him, we were our first training group. Don’t worry, he did a great job!
Our first day of training covered the rules and regulations of Teleperformance, as well as things that we could do. From then on, for the next two weeks, we would be training for our project. Due to the number of brands covered by our project, it was very exhaustive, but we managed to do everything. We took qualifying tests to make sure we were up to scratch, as well as some roleplay calls as examples of what we may come across, and how we would communicate. The biggest bonus for most people was playing Kahoot, which is a quiz game where you can play with multiple people, and it was a lot of fun.
I tell you something – when we got to the floor proper, I was bricking it. My anxiety took hold and most of the time I could barely function. I was allowed to ease into it, as I was still training. But I knew that I needed to step up. On Tuesday, we visited some of the clients in the area, and then went back to work. I was still tentative, but I pressed on. Wednesday and Thursday were much better, and I settled into a pace that was expected of me, and on Thursday, I was able to sign my contract proper. Out of all of us, there was only one person who didn’t sign the contract because she took time off and slept during work, and generally couldn’t be bothered. Word is she was let go from a second project not long after.
Settling In & Relocation
So for the next couple of weeks, everything was plain sailing. However, I had qualms with some of the external activities – for example, some of the parties, social events and activities were for weekends, and I was expected to work weekends a lot of the time (not all projects expect you to work weekends, but ours did). I decided not to bother with those, and instead, I did my own exploring and shopping.
Tony left our flat to live with other friends, and we had two new flatmates come in – this other guy who’s name I can’t remember (let’s call him Dirk – that’d be awkward if that was his actual name), and Cynthia (she now lives in London, so I want to visit her sometime). So Dirk causes a lot of problems within the flat – he punched a hole through one of the bathroom doors, and when he was let go from two projects, he left and took the TV with him – note that this wasn’t his TV, but it was one that was in there from the company. That caused us a lot of problems later.
An absolute game-changer came on 6th September, when I arrived home from work to find a massive leak had sprung in the freshly ‘repaired’ pipe, and water was literally everywhere. Well, Cynthia had arrived about a couple of minutes before and was panicking. I straight away contacted the apartment helpline, who took my details and I explained what had happened. They came over to assess the damage once I’d turned off the water supply, and we started cleaning. Arguments were to be had with the landlord and the repair team, and we had to be relocated. So cue the three of us having to take some of our things with us over to work, so we can grab some keys, and then get a taxi to take us to the place where we would be staying. We ended up in Campo de Ourique, and I would have no choice but to take an Uber for the next few days because I didn’t have time to plan a route to work.
It got worse when I realised that my passport was still in the old flat. I hadn’t had the chance to return, because I was busy working, and usually only got one-day weekends. So when I found out that they’d changed the locks (thanks Dirk!), I was fuming. I’d emailed complaints, along with my flatmate, and they mentioned needing a 50€ charge to enter the flat – despite us being locked out through no fault of our own. I explained that my passport was in there, and by not letting me access to my flat, they were pretty much withholding my passport, which would be brought up with the British Embassy. They quickly allowed us access without the charge.
The money wasn’t great either, only around 670€ per month, and while that may be all well and good, we were expected to reach targets that even a lot of the seniors could never do. It got to the point where I absolutely hated going in to work, and in October, I handed in my notice. By this point, a lot of people had already left, and we were getting so many calls that we had to divert a lot of them over to the team in the Phillippines.
My last day was actually the smoothest we’d ever had. Barely any qualms, smashed my conversion target and had a really lovely gentleman and his wife on my last call. It was bittersweet, but it was what I needed at the time.
We Did Have Good Points
My relationship with Teleperformance wasn’t exactly terrible. After all, they provided me with my dream of living abroad. It allowed me to explore a beautiful city, especially the north of Lisbon, which a lot of travel guides and videos tend to avoid in favour of Alfama and Belem. For the anniversary of the project’s inception on Halloween, we had a fancy-dress day and was given treats such as waffles and cupcakes, as well as a points bonus for the project. We had a branch launch day, which meant we could spend some ‘training’ time on the buffet that we had prepared for us. The training sessions we had with other representatives of the hotel chain were really informative and very diverse. We had ‘Power Hours’ where we would compete against each other for sales. We had such a tight-knit community, no matter what shift pattern we worked at – especially our training group. The supervisors we had (especially Patricia) were lovely.
I’ve also been invited back for an alumni party, but I’m sadly unable to make it.
So I guess I have to say ‘obrigada’ to Teleperformance Portugal.