Okay, so I had been out for the count for…an unspecified amount of days. Okay, weeks. Yes, bad. But hey, I had been busy. Swear! Honest!

Anyways, one of the things that kept me busy was online job application (see? I can chuck off procrastination at times). See, I’ve always wanted to try out some of those ‘part-time jobs’ other people have been mentioning. Since I’m one of those Internet junkies, I decided to get a job that requires online presence – at least, if my mom complains I’ve been melting my eyeballs in front of the monitor for four hours, I will have a very, very good reason (ie, “I’m being productive, Ma!”). Of course, like a true member of the Net Gen, I can also try multitasking! One tab for the job, five others for Facebook, TV Tropes, Wikipedia and some other site that suits my fancy. Win-win situation. Yep!

It’s still too early to celebrate and dream of things to buy though, since I’ve yet to finish the application process for the two companies I’ve applied to. Nevertheless, I’ve already noticed several things that required the attention and appearance of the OrCom hat.

The first company I braved was an online tutoring service. It needs English speakers who have the time and patience to tutor Japanese clients. I’ve been hearing of this job from my classmates ever since last semester and I decided to give it a try. After all, the application process is online – I only needed to fill up a form page and hit the ‘Send’ button. Then I have to wait for the email confirmation and then the real life phone call for a brief interview. If I passed that, then there’s the mock lesson to look forward to, and after that some more requirements to pass before I finally hit the official roster. Of course, the whole process cannot be accomplished in one day, but it looked pretty streamlined to me.

It sounded really easy – after all, I’ve been filling up online forms ever since, what, high school. The waiting part was fine, too. As I browsed the company web site (while filling up the app form – tabs are among the most awesome of web browser features), I hit the first novelty.

Skype.

Skype was merciful to my bandwidth and the installation wasn’t difficult either. It was simply…new. Yes, yes, I know, I’m a Net Gen, I should’ve learned about Skype the moment it started appearing in fifty thousand hits on Google. But I never had a reason to use Skype. I was content with YM and email correspondence. This whole ‘voice over the Internet’ thing sounded too similar to the telephone, and I thought, what’s the difference between the written and spoken word over the Internet? Besides, my reading skills seem to be better than my listening ones. But since Skype was a requirement, I knew I had to learn how to use the program. Thankfully the Welcome Screen proved to be helpful enough for the basics, and the interface wasn’t a headache. It seems all nice and dandy, and it worked well during the mock lesson. By well, no glitch or weird happenings whatsoever that could be attributed to faulty programming or interface that suddenly made my eyes cross. Moreover, I can use the chat box while talking at the same time. If I want to make sure I got understood, I could always type a keyword or the whole sentence.

The second company, which is in need of writers, also featured an online application of sorts – namely, the form filling thing – but it was less ‘rigid’ than the first company’s. Other than the staple ‘name, location, email’ blahs, there were questions like ‘describe yourself’. After blabbing on and on in their forms, I hit the send button. Not an hour later (or maybe not even fifteen minutes later), I’ve been alerted via email to the next step in the application process. I almost rolled my eyes – I’m willing to bet that they didn’t even read everything I’ve put in that form. The wonders of automatic reply, eh?

Anyways, what struck me about this company is that they have an official forum which they called their ‘Cyber Office’. They do have a physical, real-life office for the higher-ups, but for their pool of writers, everything can be accomplished simply by logging in their forum and doing the work online. No walls, no tables, no inter-cubicle talk – just the Internet, in all of its vastness. Want to know the rules? There’s a thread for that. Where to claim and post tasks? Go to the appropriate thread. Want to talk to your fellow writers about everything and anything? There’s an online niche for that. All the human contact one can experience in a real life office could be approximated online.

It sure is nifty, though. I don’t need to leave the house and I could do the tasks without anyone physically breathing down my neck. However, while the Internet connects me to the other person, it also serves as a barrier at the same time. We relate differently to people online. I could eat whenever I want while typing the tasks, or I could mask my irritation with a pleasant voice while talking through Skype.  There’s a lack of the ‘human touch’ in these relationships. At least in Skype, you can hear the voice behind the handle (not that it’s much, really), but with the forum-slash-cyber office, everyone is simply a name and whatever persona they conjured up. We’re slowly getting to that ‘infinite workspace’ thing, but I think that the idea of an ‘office’ as a space with cubicles, desks and real post-its is going to stick.

Advertisements