Elsa Prado, a newly promoted supervising agent in the personal insurance field shares the joy of her promotion as well as the challenges of working in an impoverished community.
What is your job title? How many years of experience do you have in that field?
Supervising Agent. Five months
Would you describe what you do on a typical day?
I book appointments and go meet with members to discuss their benefit options. I also do field training of new agents. I take them with me to help them train as agents. I also do class room training and coach new agents.
What is your ethnicity? How has it hurt or helped you?
Hispanic. It has helped me.
What languages do you speak? How has speaking another language helped you?
English and Spanish. It has given me a broader market to work with.
What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?
I learned by working in the ghetto that there is a tremendous misunderstanding in the practices that are performed by the industry. I happened to notice that the scripts we use have no fit with the low income families I serve.
What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
In school they don’t teach you how to identify and communicate in the various socioeconomic environments that you will be working with. The discrimination that you have to deal with and the pre-judging that you have to work around are also things I was not prepared for.
How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I started this line of work after I was laid-off due to the economic situation with AT&T. I don’t really know what I would have done because I had never worked where I pursue the client. It was always the other way around.
On a good day, when things are going well, what’s happening and what do you like about it?
On a good day I will enroll a couple of families into the programs their families need. I feel really good when I can help a family find a solution to their needs; to see them protected and happy that they have peace of mind.
When everything goes wrong, what’s happening and what do you dislike?
On a bad day, people get skeptical and they decide to give up their benefits because of lack of understanding. I dislike when people misinterpret the reasons why I’m being sent to explain their benefits and options.
What is your favorite part of your job? What areas do you struggle in or wish you could avoid?
The favorite part of my job is helping people. I struggle seeing the drug dealing, unemployment and overall living conditions in the West side of Chicago. I wish I could avoid the crime in the streets and going into some of the impoverished homes.
How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
My job is very stressful due to the areas we have to go into. I try very hard to stay balanced physically and emotionally.
What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?
I was told that it would range between $65,000. and $75,000. I don’t think I am paid enough considering my responibilites because I am paid strictly on commissions.
What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?
The most rewarding moment was being promoted to supervising agent. Of all the things I have done I am most proud of having enrolled some of the most needy families on the West Side with plans that will greatly benefit them.
What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?
The most challenging moment was a road trip to Peoria, Illinois. I went with two other agents and the agent that is a black woman was brutally thrown out of a house because she is a woman of color. She is a hard working agent that faced terrible discrimination while we tried to serve the members in the Peoria area. I would prefer to forget that in 2011 we are still battling racism. As a manager it was very difficult to see my agent be mistreated. I was not mistreated that way.
What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
You need to have an entrepreneur mentality, a strong work ethic, flexibility, adaptability, and be teachable.
What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
To think about what it is that they are trying to accomplish.
How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I haven’t taken any since my promotion. I wish I could get away for a few days.
Are there any common myths you want to correct about what you do?
I don’t know what common myths exist for managers. I know it is challenging and requires a lot of patience. Dealing with people on all kinds of levels is never an easy job.
If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
If I could write my own ticket I would own my own business.