News : PlumChoice Opens an On-campus Call Center Staffed by Students
Boston, August 19, 2014 -- Getting an on-campus job has new meaning at Boston’s Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, where technology support company PlumChoice has opened a call center staffed exclusively by Ben Franklin students.
The call center opened in early August and, at the moment, 15 students are working there part-time, fielding calls from PlumChoice customers who are having problems with their PCs. The students earn between $13 and $15 an hour and receive paid time off, tuition reimbursement and some other benefits, according to PlumChoice, which is based in Lowell.
Student workers who become proficient and have their own computers will be able to do the same PlumChoice tech support work from home, leaving space for a new crop of Ben Franklin Institute students to rotate into the on-campus call center. PlumChoice staffers manage the students, though Benjamin Franklin Institute professors also work with the students in the call center space.
In the next six months, there could be as many as 50 Ben Franklin Institute students working for PlumChoice, said David Temlak, the company’s senior vice president of customer service innovation and delivery.
Benjamin Franklin’s interest in the partnership is the opportunity to match students with hands-on training and work that fits with what they are learning in the classroom.
"The most obvious connection is that they’re learning about what makes information technology work," said Anthony Benoit, president of the Benjamin Franklin Institute. Benoit said the students also are learning communication skills. "We hear from employers that it’s great they have baseline of technological understanding, but can they talk about it and write about it?"
With the on-campus call center, PlumChoice aims to develop workers who have a baseline level of technical skills, which the company can build on to service its customers. Temlak said some of these students would be able to advance with the company, into positions such as IT, workforce management, training, quality assurance and engineering.
"These are students and our intention is that we want them to continue their training. We want them to get their education and degrees," Temlak said. The company employs a total of 900 employees with about 120 call center workers in its Lowell facility along with corporate staff, and 70 employees in Broomfield, Colorado. The rest of PlumChoice’s workers work from home, Temlak said.
PlumChoice has invested into the partnership with Benjamin Franklin, a portion of it in a grant. The company provides the diagnostic tools that the students use to troubleshoot PC problems for callers. Benjamin Franklin has invested mainly in in-kind contributions, including turning an outdated computer lab into a slick call center outfitted with computers and creating adjacent classroom-style space for training.
For the sake of Ben Franklin students and their career prospects, Benoit said, he would be "delighted if it became standard practice" for the technology school to have similar arrangements with other companies, in addition to PlumChoice.
"Someone who knows how to troubleshoot and solve problems in IT is valuable in just about every organization," he said. "It’s a great starting point for jobs in almost every company."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About PlumChoice, Inc:
PlumChoice Inc.: a specialized technical services provider
About Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology:
The Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts, is a non-profit private college of engineering and industrial technologies established in 1908 with funds bequeathed in Benjamin Franklin's will.
Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2014