A month and a half ago I was laid-off from my job. Unemployment is scary for a 23-year-old who is fresh out of college, and laid-off from my first “real” job. I’m not going to lie; it has been the most confusing time in my life. Every other day my plan changes on what I’m going to do next. Should I stay in Seattle, should I move home and save money, should I go to grad school? So many decisions, I wish someone would choose the right one for me, and I’d put all my faith in them and do it. Making these choices is such a great life lesson, but man it is stressful.
I am in a decent position, unlike many others who have families to support, mortgages to pay, I was able to take a position working at my family business, although, I’ve been forced to temporarily move out of Seattle to the Podunk town of Medford, Oregon (don’t get me wrong I do hold a place in my heart for Medford) where I have zero-friends and my dad seems like a ghost that shows up every 3rd Tuesday of the months that end in “Y”. I’m getting by with the overwhelming support of my friends and family and I know things will be okay; I just have to trust this. And I’m also doing work that is keeping my skills fresh and helping me advance our company.
I think about the week leading up to when I was laid-off every day, and I think of the moment I was let go, and feels like a vivid nightmare that replays every night. I loved my job, I loved the agency I worked at, and I loved the people. I looked up to my supervisor and hope we can keep in touch, because she is an amazing woman.
But, I was naïve about the situation. I didn’t think it was going to happen to me. And there are things I wish I would have done before I lost my job, that may or may not have made a difference, but If I would have done these things, maybe I wouldn’t have to place part of the blame on myself.
I wish I would have asked for extra work. I was working at a communications agency that did everything from public relations to advocacy relations to advertising. It was very well rounded. I was working in advocacy relations, which was new to me, but soon became my passion. But the week before I was laid-off thing definitely slowed down, even weeks before that my work had slowed. Now this may not have been a direct effect of me being laid-off. But I could have assisted in different areas of the company to let executives know that I can be used in other areas of the agency. I received my degree in public relations, and also have knowledge of Social Media, which was being utilized at the agency. If I had offered to help out in these other areas while I was caught up on my work, the executive team may have noticed that I could have been utilized in multiple areas.
I wish I would have networked with more people. I worked on a very small team that was tucked in a far off corner of the agency. I didn’t meet many people in my four-month stint there. I never took the time to socialize, or even take advantage of meeting people through the extracurricular activities that were set up for us, Which means I wasn’t networking with my coworkers. They didn’t fully understand my capabilities and the value I could have brought to other areas of the agency. I’m kicking myself now for not making those connections and relationships, which could be assisting in my job search.
I wish I would have kept track with my network. Finding a job is about networking. I didn’t take the time to the day I was let go to take a look at the relationships I had made and write down their contact information. I was in shock mode when I got back to my desk to pack my things, I didn’t fully think of what I needed to take with me besides my personal belongings.
I wish I had an emergency fund. As a recent graduate I was just starting to become financially independent from my parents. Like most recent grads, I had to borrow money from my parents and was just going to be able to start paying them back when this happened. I’m still learning about saving and budgeting, but I wish I would have made a large effort to put aside a large portion of my money each month, so that I would have a safety net now that I am suffering.
I wish I wouldn’t have been so naïve. Nothing is certain in this life or your career. This economy is going to be out-of-wack for at least the next five years. In history it has taken at least five years for our nation to pick itself up and dust off its shoulders from the moment we’ve hit rock bottom, I still don’t believe we’re at rock bottom yet. It is scary for everyone. And I think everyone needs to know you aren’t safe. You need to be working extra hard and taking as many precautions as you can in case something happens to you.
I wish I wouldn’t have taken my job for granted. I remember the day I had to sit down and talk finances with my roommates. As soon as we wrapped up the conversation on a Sunday evening at 10:30 pm they all said in unison, “Man I wish I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow!” I looked at them all and said, “Please just be thankful you have a job.” I think about all of the mornings I got up and complained about getting ready and riding the bus. If only you know what I’d give to be at a job and know what I was doing with my future.
These are things I wish I would have done before I lost my job. Your life can change in an instant, and I cannot change these things I wish I had done, but I can pass along the wisdom to others. Not many people are laid-off from their first job in their twenties, although unfortunately I think it will begin to be more common than not, these are things to think about if you are at your job, whether it’s your first or your tenth position. Nothing is certain.
On a Final note, Today while reading Vanity Fair there was a pullout quote that said, “your dream Job is finding something with a salary and health benefits.” and it’s so true. Currently, yes I have future goals for my life, but I am NOT thinking about them right now. I’m focusing on today and finding a job for right now that has benefits and a salary I can live off of. Not 5 years from now. But I thought this was an interesting point that a dream job now solely involves a salary, benefits and a 401k.
On a final final note, no matter how you cut back, my biggest advice is to keep your health insurance. One accident or major illness can land you thousands of dollars in debt. If COBRA, the coverage you can get from a former job, is too pricey, find deals on ehealthinsurance.com. or look into high-deductible coverage; it has cheaper premium (you’ll just pay more out of pocket if an emergency strikes) but health insurance is so important, make sure that isn’t something you sacrifice in these hard economic times.
Update: Thank you for everyones support I accepted a job offer last week! And will be sure to take my own advice!more...