Talk the telecom talk
Not surprisingly, excellent communication skills are necessary throughout the telecommunications industry. Customer service agents have to field calls from agitated subscribers with grace and good humour. Technicians have face-to-face contact with customers when installing or fixing network equipment in the field. And then there are the sales reps that pass out smiles and handshakes with aplomb in pursuit of corporate accounts. Communication serves workers well within the office, too, say insiders, because front-line field and call-centre workers often serve as an intermediary between subscribers and management.
Because all the industry's networks are based on some sort of physical component, whether its cell phone towers or fibre-optic cables, telecom companies will always need a staff to expand, update and maintain those networks. Accordingly, technical positions abound for those toting undergraduate or advanced degrees in electrical engineering and related fields.
While call-centre jobs are ubiquitous and open to those without degrees (and can offer commission income on top of salary), insiders say there is no upward mobility for people entering the company from this route. Instead, those looking for a sales position in the telecom industry are encouraged to start with an internship after completing their degree. Networking is crucial to rising through a company's ranks throughout the telecom world, regardless of your position.
In addition to the obvious perks involved with working in the telecom industry -- free cable TV, internet access and mobile phone service can be a few of the fine benefits -- many workers report that flexible scheduling is a valued attribute of their jobs. Additionally, telecommuting has become more and more acceptable throughout the industry, perhaps because these companies' products are facilitating web conferences and work-from-home options for the rest of the business world.