Teleservice jobs provide flexibility

More students are contracting as independent telephone service agents, according to LiveOps, a teleservice made up entirely of work-at-home employees.

Students can work from their dorms or apartments taking orders for national pizza chains, conducting political polls and doing similar phone-based work, said Elizabeth Gordon, a LiveOps spokeswoman. Calls are routed to an agent's landline phone and the agent sends information to the company over the Internet.

"A student in Washington, D.C., might get a call for a pizza order in Fort Worth, Texas," she said. "They'd take the order down, plug it into the computer and the pizza would then be delivered down in Texas."

The number of students working for LiveOps has tripled in the past month, according to LiveOps data. Students currently make up 6 percent of LiveOps' 9,000-employee workforce, and the number of student workers continues to increase as students find out about the jobs from their friends, Gordon said.

Gordon said the most appealing thing about at-home jobs for students is the scheduling flexibility. Students can choose how many hours they want to work in any individual week, and they can choose not to work at all, she said.

LiveOps employee Lauren Stiteler, who will be graduating from the College of Charleston in December, said working as a private agent has been great for balancing work and school.

"I've been very, very busy with school, so there have been some weeks where I haven't worked at all," she said.

Stiteler said most of her jobs involve answering calls for infomercial and travel brochure orders. She usually makes about $16 an hour, she said.

While Stiteler said she's never had problems with the company, she said people who aren't familiar with technology often have difficulties.

"They sometimes don't understand how the system works," she said. "But if you're used to using a computer - if you're a student, you will be - then there's really not a problem."

The idea of working as a teleservice agent was met with mixed feelings by AU students. Kat Schroeder, a senior in the Kogod School of Business, said the job sounds "a little sketchy."

"I prefer jobs where you actually show up and have a fixed schedule," Schroeder said.

Laura Blyler, a sophomore in the School of International Service, said she would consider working as an at-home teleservice agent instead of having a typical college job waiting tables or serving coffee. The only problem AU students might have is finding a landline connection, Blyler said.

"[It] sounds easy enough and has a flexible schedule," Blyler said. "I wish I could do that. I guess it's unfortunate we don't have landline phones."

Landline phones were removed from AU's campus after the 2004-2005 school year. Very few people used landline phones, and the system was facing costly repairs, according to Housing and Dining Director Julie Weber.

AU students could make money in a similar way on campus by working for the AU Phonathon, which employs students to call alumni asking for donations for AU programs.

"I've had this job for four semesters now, and I plan on keeping it until I graduate," said Phonathon worker Aimee Francois, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"It's a great job for how much money you make," Francois said. "I'm pretty much against telemarketing jobs. The only reason I like Phonathon is because it's legitimate fundraising - we're not selling anything"

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