What Getting Let Go from a Design Job Taught Me

medium.com medium.com3 years ago in #Business Love504

Bouncing back after being laid off “This is going to suck”. Wait what? I didn’t expect to hear that from my manager during our one on one. Photo by Saad Chaudhry Earlier that morning I sat down with my boss to talk about recent work. He asked me about the research I was conducting. Since I was still in the middle of it I gave him a quick summary. He filled out a spreadsheet pressing me for more info. Two hours passed, he seemed satisfied. “Alright let’s do our one on one” he blurts out walking out of the room. Hurriedly I grab my jacket expecting us to go outside as usual. But something feels off. As we’re going towards the exit he takes a sharp turn left and motions to the room in the corner, “this is going to suck” he mutters under his breath. Did I hear that right? The HR manager is already there. The next moment passes like a blur. HR explains how the company has to cut staff due to lack of funding and that it’s nothing personal plus good news is that, “you now have the rest of the afternoon off!”. Good news indeed. “It seems like you’re taking this fine, do you have any questions?” says my now former boss. I ask about reapplying, about waiting it out until the new funding comes in. It doesn’t matter. I’m desperately clinging to something that’s been decided long before this meeting. When we’re let go — it’s easy to self blame. What did I do wrong? How did things come to this? The truth is, it’s not always about you. A company’s rapid decline or rapid growth can all play a role in one’s departure. Running out of money happens in startups more often than not. The media portrays startups as glamorous places to work hard and make it big. But most of them fail. We all know the stats but it’s personal when your paycheck is on the line. When I left one startup for another, the prior company closed doors a month later. The new startup didn’t fare well either. They went through multiple rounds of layoffs cutting over 90% of staff and shutting down multiple locations. One guy got laid off, was brought back, only to get laid off again within a week. What a rollercoaster. On the flip side of rapid decline is rapid growth. For employees this means rapid change in skills. Previously strong generalists might find themselves scrambling to provide value when a new wave of specialists come in who can do their job faster and better. It’s not a failure to quit, you may find yourself bored with specialization and prefer to be a generalist elsewhere. I head back to my desk, trying to figure out how I’m going to pack my remaining cans of red bull and soylent that I ordered to the office. During the last few months I’ve been coming in early and leaving late only to get home in time to hop on a call with our overseas office. I cram everything in my backpack and ask my boss for a final one on one. We’ve all heard of the metaphor of “boiling the frog”. Put the frog in a pot of water. Adjust the water gradually, the frog won’t notice and gets cooked alive. Awful! But also false. Nature is smarter, the real frogs jump out when the water gets too hot for their liking. They have good instincts but we don’t. Sometimes we’re the metaphorical frog trapped in a toxic workplace. We…

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