This article is part of our ongoing PA Note series. It reflects the thoughts, experiences, and motivations of Prialto’s Productivity Assistants from the field. In this post, Jobelle Pangilinan of our Manila Service Center tells us about her journey to Prialto.
Have you ever asked Siri where’s the nearest location to buy a burrito? Or have you asked Cortana to add something to your calendar? People are starting to associate these apps with the term “Virtual Assistant”. The dictionary defines virtual as "not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so".
It makes me cringe and question my existence while having an internal debate on Platonic Realism. Our founder, Eric Taussig, has also written about his ambivalence on putting the word “virtual” next to Prialto assistant . As a company, we are all about applying human insight and touch where machines break down.
Prialto Productivity Assistants (PAs) juggle supporting 3 to 4 people each day, completing every assignment and delivering high quality service. We take pride in what we do, knowing that we are contributing to our member’s success. That said, some of the members I’ve supported have understandably had less time than others to actually get to know who I am.
Each of us Prialto assistants have a story to tell, and I’m fortunate enough to have this chance to share mine.
My name is Jobelle. I was born in the Philippines and raised for several years in the US. I come from a military family and lived inside a military base up until my dad’s retirement. My grandfather on my mom’s side was a 3-star general, and my dad was a 4-star general, of the Philippine Army. Being an “Army Brat” had its perks: when Dad attended classes at West Point or went on a diplomatic mission, he got to take our entire family with him.
Moving from one country to another was difficult, especially due to the contrasting cultures. I acted out, and often neglected my studies. One day I realized nothing in my home country made sense to me. I dropped everything, packed my bags, and hopped on a plane to LAX to begin anew. I worked a few minimum-wage jobs in LA for some time - and it was around then that I fell in love with a man 7,288 miles away. He was back home in Manila. He and I both agreed that I return to the Philippines, and it’s been happily ever after since. We even work together at Prialto!
I needed a job when I returned to Manila, and the most obvious choice was BPO. Minimum wage here, for blue collar jobs, is very low. When the BPO industry began to take off, it opened a massive door for the workforce. Applicants didn’t need an advanced degree and salaries started at rates nearly four times the rate of a blue collar job. As a result, many people jumped on the opportunity. But not me: working for a call center was not an option. I perceived it to be repetitive and unchallenging. I didn't want to be a humanoid robot programmed to do and say certain things. I wanted a job that allowed me to use my discretion and critical thinking to help support others. So I ran a Google Search for “Virtual Assistant Jobs” near my area. The first result was Prialto - and the rest is history.
It’s been more than a year here at Prialto and I continue to see the value in what we do. Here, I'm always learning new ways to make life easier and more productive for our members. At the end of each day, I feel accomplished, and that keeps me inspired. Though an ocean separates us from you, my fellow assistants and I do so much without being physically next to you. Our worlds are so different, but the work we do together connects us, fosters familiarity and adds value for parties on both sides of the ocean.
Isn’t that amazing?