Career, Goals, Life, Real life, Stephanie

I Lost My Long-Time Job in a COVID Layoff – and I’m Thankful

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

I “lost” my job in a mass layoff due to COVID-19 a few weeks ago. Isn’t “lost” an interesting word? I know where my job is – it’s at my old company, but as per the official definition below from dictionary.com, I “no longer possess or retain” the job, so I suppose it is “lost.”

Definition of Lost on Dictionary.com

It’s super weird, and yet, kind of exciting. That probably sounds weird, right? I mean, I spent all of my 30s (so far) there. I was there for 8.5 years, and I appreciate everything that I was able to do, the skills I learned, and the people I met.

While working at my last job, I had the opportunity to do some really cool stuff like building a team to manage corporate culture, and managing all philanthropy for the company. I created those roles, and that’s awesome. In a tech company, there are few roles like the one I created and filled, and I was lucky enough to do that.

There are certainly some bittersweet things about being “gone.” Although I have been working remotely from a different state for some time, the end is now official. I said bye to so many people before I moved – and even to the buildings on the campus – and didn’t know it would be goodbye forever. I thought I’d be back a few times a year for certain things. Now, if I go back, I’ll get a visitor badge. How bizarre.

I remember my interview – which was actually rather entertaining because there was a mixup. I was told by recruiting that it was an in-person interview and my manager (who is now my friend, Nina) was told it was a phone interview. So, there I was, sitting in the lobby, while the receptionist tried to track down my future manager but couldn’t find her because she was in a room trying to call me for the phone interview. Thank goodness I felt compelled to check my phone and saw missed calls and a voicemail from her asking if I still wanted to interview. Then she walked down the stairs and the receptionist was like, that’s her! She flagged my future manager down, and then I had a very informal interview.

During the interview, I met the team. One of them asked about my husband, and I said he worked at a home improvement store. The guy said, oh, so he wears a vest? I jokingly said, “Yes, he wears a vest. Nothing else. That’s his whole uniform. No pants, it’s weird.” My future coworker laughed and my manager seemed impressed because she said he was “a tough egg to crack.”

Me and Nina before I moved

In total irony, I wasn’t offered the official job until another phone interview with a man I called “the culture detector,” who made sure that potential associates were a culture fit for the company. I never in a million years would’ve imagined that I would’ve ended up creating and building a culture team at that company. It was such a unique position that I held pre-IPO, though the IPO, after the IPO, and through a major leadership change. It’s not often that people get to see culture through that lens. I’m so thankful that I did.

Through my role, I met so many associates. I got to work with them, learn about their stories, help them with their goals, contribute to their passions through matching donations and organizing volunteer events. How lucky, right? I also managed associate perks, so I really was the “shiny/happy” part of the company, a role I was privileged to hold.

I remember my first day on the job and being so nervous, and also being so excited! My first week featured on-site massages, a software release party, free lunch, and working in a building with free slushy machines.

I remember meeting the man who would become one of my best friends, Jody. I remember the first time he asked me to lunch – he wrote a note, like an old-school, on paper, note – drew a picture of his signature dog with the words “I’m hungry.” I still have that somewhere. I had no idea that he – who started 1 month after me and was laid off on the same day as me in the mass layoff – would be become one of my best friends. He has one of the most varied life stories of anyone I’ve ever encountered, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have had 8 years of lunches to learn about them.

Me and Jody at our favorite restaurant!

I remember meeting (my now close friend), Jaclyn, who started at a folding table as a contractor. She was at a folding table because we were growing so fast that there weren’t enough desks during the busy season. Her desk was right by the bathroom, and even that couldn’t dampen what I’d eventually coin as her “Spirit Sparkles.” She put her Spirit Sparkles to good use on the culture team, and continued to brighten the company as she progressed in her career. She, too, was impacted by the layoff, but I know that she’s off to do something amazing.

Me and Jaclyn, at OUR favorite restaurant

I remember meeting Lisa, who was interviewing for the receptionist position. I had no idea why I was asked to interview her, and had no idea that I’d end up being good friends with her and she’d become part of my work and friend group (She’s also an A+ jam maker. Seriously – no one makes better strawberry jam). She’s organized, upbeat, fun, and gives good advice. She moved on shortly before the pandemic, so my whole crew is gone!

Me and Lisa before I moved. I love this picture!

I remember emailing the CEO/Founder of the company when I had my daughter. His family donated millions to build the new children’s hospital (that now bears his name) shortly before my daughter was born, and thanks to the role I worked in, I was able to meet the team at the hospital. I had no idea that when I toured the NICU while I was pregnant that my daughter would soon become a patient due to her early birth. The CEO emailed back right away with encouragement and his cell phone number.

Now, that is all over. I won’t ever be on a lunch break with my friends (shout out to Jody, Jaclyn, Lisa, and Nina). I won’t be able to organize another family event there.

But, that’s okay.

I was there for 8.5 years. I was comfortable there. The role was awesome, but it was something I did for years. I never expected that I’d be one of several hundred laid off due to a pandemic. It actually seems weird to be part of history in that way. But, I really feel like it was the best thing.

I got the call, and I wasn’t even upset… or even surprised. I mean, as I said, my job was at a tech company, so my role of culture and philanthropy (while important) didn’t contribute directly to the product. It’s not like I was in engineering or sales or account management. I worked in associate happiness, so by default my job required spending money, and when we got news that layoffs were happening, I assumed I would be on that list.

Is being laid off a positive? Not in the moment, right? You have to figure out money, and all the other things. It also creates a surprising amount of things on your to-do list (outplacement services, unemployment, transferring benefits, retirement accounts, updating your resume, job searching, etc.). BUT, I really feel like this was a tremendous opportunity. How lucky to be pushed out of the nest????

What would I be doing in 5 years if this didn’t happen? Probably working there in the same role. Where will I be in 5 years from now? I have no idea, and that’s really pretty awesome and exhilarating!!!

Is it a coincidence that Dawn and I started working on this blog and the videos a few months ago – before the pandemic happened? I don’t think so. I think it was meant to be.

Would I have ever fully “bet” on myself and left that comfortable corporate job? Probably not. But, how I choose to move forward is now a decision I have to make and can really think about. I love it.

I want to look back at the day I was laid off as the turning point in my life. I want to be proud of what I chose to do and how I took action to achieve my goals. I want to be able to say that I’m living my dream.

So to summarize this layoff, I say:

Thank you so, so, so, much for my time at the company. I grew so much there. I lived so much life during the time I was there. I started as an almost-30 year old who was newly married, and over time I bought a house, got a puppy, my husband got a second degree, he entered a new career field, I had a miscarriage, a high-risk pregnancy, a daughter with a 3-month Nicu-stay, lost my dad, and faced a serious health issue in my family (all is fine now). That’s SO much life. On the job, I was able to grow my career and learn so much, and really become an expert at what I did. I’m a different person now. How could all of that *not* change you?

I appreciate all of the opportunities, the friends I made, the beautiful campus I worked on, and the flexibility I was granted during my daughter’s time in the NICU.

And also, thank you for the layoff. Thank you for putting me on that list, and forcing me to grow once again. I grew a lot at the company, and I will grow again now, because I have to. I may never have taken this step, but I’m so thankful to be here now, at this crossroad, figuring out what’s next. KNOWING, something else great is next. It’s time for a new adventure.

Photo by Riz Mooney on Unsplash
Life, Real life, Stephanie

It’s Been a While…

So, it’s been a while. Like a few years. But, here we are, trying to get back on track and start writing this for real this time!

I guess a good place to start would be to do a whirlwind catch up. In the last 3 years I’ve lived a LOT of life. I’m pretty sure that I posted in the past about what a year 2015 was (if not, let’s just say it sucked. Miscarriage, lots of relatives died – including my dad, I had a high-risk pregnancy and delivered my daughter 3 months early, she had a 3 month Nicu stay). Well, 2018 and part of 2019 looked a lot like 2015, and the second half of 2019 looked a lot like 2004 – except for me… I’m about 40 pounds heavier than in 04 (WTH???). :O

Some of the notable points are our family had a serious health issue (all is well now, thank goodness), two of our pets died one month apart, and we had a major move. We’re back in the north again! People think we’re nuts for that, but look, Dorothy was right. What can I say?

Some things that haven’t changed:

  • I work for the same company I did in the south, which is pretty awesome because it means no commuting in the snow.
  • I still need to lose weight (insert face palm emoji here…). I’m working on that with Caleigh.
  • I still need to get this blog going (insert emoji of a clock here – what the heck have we been waiting for???) – I’m working on that with Dawn.
  • I haven’t gotten to have Thanksgiving dinner or go to the mall with Bret Michaels (insert heart emoji here…) – honestly, that’s such a dream of mine, haha! I’ve met him a few times and he is the nicest human alive. I’m not even sure how he’s a real person. I have to get to hang with him at the mall for an afternoon at least once in my life!
  • I still need to figure out how to make my dream of having a talk show come true – I’m trying to find the solution to that too. That one takes a lot of work. Or maybe I’m overthinking it.

Not starting a talk show definitely bothers me every day that I haven’t done anything about it. I figure 2020 is a good time to figure that out. Wouldn’t it be lovely to get it going before turning 40? Life has been very life-y since 2015, but that can’t be an excuse anymore. People do it and find a way, and I need to do that too. With everything being so accessible these days, there’s really not a reason to not do it. Here’s a cool article I read about it never being too late.

And here’s a meme that I love (and need to live by…) – note that I (obviously) didn’t create this meme, I found it on Google.

Options According to Yoda

It bothers me that SO many people in my life know that about my longtime dream of having a talk show, and I’ve done nothing. I’m not one who cares what others think about me, but it bothers me that I could be perceived as a dreamer rather than a doer. How awful would that be? Do they put that shit on headstones “She dreamt of a talk show.” Ugh.

I was texting with someone earlier today and I wrote “I don’t care if it’s a talk show with an audience, it can be on youtube. I just want to get to a point where I a) do it, and b) can sustain myself doing it. I want that to be my job. I want to be like Caleigh. Cheer is her passion and she has built her gym into something amazing that I’m SO proud of her for. I want to build something amazing and have my family and friends be proud of me for it.” I have a cool corporate job, but getting to make people laugh and figure out why they are how they are is what makes me actually feel fulfilled. I LOVE talking to people and trying to learn about them.

I don’t have the answer, but I’m working on it. By the end of 2020, I need to say that I’ve been working on it and things are *happening.* I have put some videos on youtube, check them out!

Speaking of 2020, I’m not one for resolutions, but hey, for shits and giggles, I’ll put some things that would be nice to do down. Perhaps goals, not resolutions.

  • Get in shape. For real. Once and for all. I don’t want to look at another damn picture and say “wouldn’t it be lovely if I ____.” I want to look at a picture and say “yes, that paid off. I’m so glad that I no longer use the whale emoji in texts to my friends when talking about heading to the pool or beach.”
  • FIGURE OUT HOW TO LIVE MY PASSION. Seriously. Guys, I know this must sound stupid on some level. She wants to talk for a living. I know that sounds nuts, but seriously, it’s what I want to do, it’s what people have done, and I need that to be me so that we’re not having this same conversation again in Jan. 2021. I want to be living my passion so that my family and friends are proud of me and think of me as someone who actually lives their dreams, not just fantasizes.
  • Figure out how to get the sassies (what I call it when my daughter is sassy) and periodic tantrums to go away and have the sweet smile return all the time. I know a smile 100% of the time is nuts too, she’s a kid, not a robot, but dang, I miss seeing that ever-present smile. She is still SO happy, but she’s also sassy sometimes. The other day on the phone with a customer service person, he asked if I had any other questions. I said yes, do you have any tips about toddler temper tantrums? He got a kick out of that, but sadly he had no tips to share.

So, that’s it. Dawn and I are going to make a real effort to keep this blog up, and I will attempt to meet the other goals for 2020.