Virtual Assistance; A blooming industry in light of a Pandemic.
by Bernadeth Barillos
Have you ever wondered how physically, emotionally, and financially pleasing it would be if you work from the comfort of your own home? In your bedroom? In your living area? In a cafeteria? Maybe in your garage? I have. Especially during the season of ECQ when most of the cities in the Philippines especially in Manila have declared a TOTAL LOCKDOWN. It was one of the longest unpaid vacations I have ever experienced since I’ve gotten into the BPO industry a few years back. I also have just resigned from my last employer and have just signed my contract with my new one before the start of pandemic but then the start date had to be held back because of SOCIAL DISTANCING. It was then I decided to revisit my Upwork account.
Upwork is one of the pioneers in offering applicants the option to apply for jobs that are open to working from home, PERMANENTLY. Upwork has thousands of foreign clients looking for Virtual Assistants (VA) who can help them manage their companies virtually. I have sent Proposals to a lot of postings but never got a reply, unfortunately (until after a few months) that’s when I started to research more about being a VA.
Virtual Assistance by definition is an intelligent virtual assistant (IVA) or intelligent personal assistant (IPA) is a software agent that can perform tasks or services for an individual based on commands or questions. Examples are Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. But company owners probably want to take a break from speaking to a ROBOT all day long, don’t they? That’s when human VAs came in! A Virtual Assistant not only plays a role of a secretary as what most people may think of. A Virtual Assistant (VA) does pretty much anything that can be done to lessen the workload of a client. Depending on the nature of business your client works in, some of the roles of a VA may include but are not limited to: answering phone calls, managing emails, scheduling appointments, lead generation, creating content to post on their company’s social media accounts, conduct online research to find addresses and the owner’s contact details and many more. Now, if those services are something you are good at, your research shouldn’t end there.
Let’s go back to my journey in finding a VA company that accepts “newbies” like me. Look, I may have worked in the BPO industry for almost a decade now but I am considered a “newbie” in this industry. I gave up on my search for a client in Upwork because of the long wait. Per hearsay, Upwork provides quality clients, but the wait is not for the quick-tempered. Some of the applicants I’ve had a chance to speak with even told me that they waited for 6months even a year just to get a Part-Time client. Yes, you read that right. There are clients who only look for a Part-time VA and some are looking for a VA working Full-time. And that’s what I found in REVA Global. After weeks of searching for a VA company, I came across a Facebook job posting looking for a Real Estate Virtual Assistant. Without any doubt, also with me being a Go-Getter, I sent my job application to their Recruitment team. And to my surprise, I received an email the next day acknowledging the receipt of my application and that they are going to contact me after reviewing my credentials. I was thrilled but at the same time, I was rattled! I don’t have the right equipment yet! I must move quickly! The following day, I and my partner rushed to the nearest mall to buy a laptop. Good thing we had some money that we saved enough to buy me an updated laptop. I decided to go with Realme Chrome Book as this already has an 11th Gen Intel processor, 8GB RAM, in Windows 10 edition. Those specs are the requirements of almost all VA companies to make sure that you get to support the client’s needs as much as possible. I already have a Jabra Biz headset to use at home and I already prepared my room to be a conducive workstation to present to REVA. They asked me to take a screenshot of my laptop specs, my headset and record a 30-sec video in my workstation introducing myself and showing my valid IDs. Fast forward, I received a call, passed the initial and final exam, and attended my paid training.
Yes. They offer paid training! I was earning $1.75/hour by attending their training classes which let me develop my skills even further to fit their client’s needs. After a month of training, the day of Client Interview came. It was nerve-wracking! I don’t know about you, but every time I get on in an interview, it always felt like the very first time! I was sweating, I was shaking, and I was very nervous! I know I have long waited for that moment, but you really can’t be a hundred percent ready in all aspects. In my case, my nerves were eating me alive. It was just like any other interview I’ve had before, but this time, each attempt is more crucial as you will only have three attempts with a C.I and then after that, if you’re still not MATCHED, you can stay but you won’t get paid. Which adds more pressure. Sadly, I didn’t make it the first time, the second time was a flop from the client’s side, then there came the third one. I was already getting impatient, I know I did my 100% the last two attempts to the point that if I don’t make it this time, I already accepted the fact that VA-ing is not meant for me. But you know, I am still prepared for it. I didn’t drink coffee to help me calm my nerves, I got enough sleep to help me relax, I practiced in front of the mirror to check on how I react to some of the answers I have ready in my head, I wore a red dress, red underwear and red lipstick to bring all the luck I can, I whispered my daily manifestation to the universe, and most importantly, I prayed.
I always believe in the saying “if it’s meant to be, it’ll be!”. The interview started, the client joined the meeting, and to my surprise, the interview turned out to be more on the casual conversational side than on the nerve-wracking ones. The client ended the interview with a question, “Do you have any questions for me?”. One of the best tips I can give out, and this can be used in any interviews you may find yourself in the near future; always answer that trick question with another question. Mine went “How do you expect me to take part in your company’s success?”. That will leave them the impression that you are 100% committed to the job you are applying for. Then I waited, in the lobby of the meeting, and was called after a few minutes by our Placement officer, and they told me I WAS MATCHED! The first thing that came into my mind was, did I make the right choice on leaving the first industry that I fell in love with? My comfort zone? My answer to this question will always be, we’ll never know unless we try. Another fast-forward to today. I have been working for the same client now for 11 months. I have been let go by the same client just a few weeks ago due to the inflation in America but was requested to be hired back as their Loan Analyst and at the same time, I was recommended by the same client to his colleague to be their Collection Specialist. So, I am now working with two clients who offer great performance incentives. This definitely gave me that financial breakthrough I have been wanting my whole adult life!
Now that you have gone this far in this featured article, first I would like to thank you for giving me your time. I can now tell that I have successfully persuaded you 90 out of 100. The only thing you must do now is to prepare yourself, prepare your stuff, look for a Virtual Assistance company that will help you build your portfolio, and submit that application. Give it a try! In this day and age, even if the Pandemic season has “boiled down”, it’s still important that we prioritize our family’s safety, our own health, and most especially our financial stability. This industry is not as established as compared to that of BPO companies that have been around for a while now, but this is definitely a competitive field that you might want to consider investing in. Work on that remaining. You’ll be thankful you did. Good luck! ###