How Losing My Job Helped Me Find My Career

Career change can be a scary thing, especially when you're thrust into it unexpectedly. However, there are two ways that you can approach such change: 1. You can panic from fear of the unknown or 2. You can see it as an opportunity. I chose to do the latter.

Three months ago I was laid off from a company that I had worked at for five years. It wasn’t the job that I wanted, but it had its perks like full health benefits, stock options, travel, and a decent salary. In today’s job climate, many people have trouble finding a job that offers all of those things, but even with my “good job”, I constantly felt unfulfilled. I really just went to work to go through the motions. It was also a job that offered job security...or so I thought.

My company was constantly expanding and hiring. It was a running joke that you could do almost anything and not get fired. Once, I heard a story about an employee that had screwed up so badly that he was demoted; yet he got to keep his salary. When I tell you it was hard for you to get let go; I mean it was damn near impossible. Like, you actually had to TRY.

Photo Credit: Samantha Tyler Photography

Photo Credit: Samantha Tyler Photography

And yet, the impossible occurred. I, along with 200 fellow employees in my division of the company lost their jobs, from senior management on down the line. Many of my co-workers were angry, confused, and felt betrayed by the company they had served for so many years. I on the other the other hand shared none of those negative feelings. I felt relieved, liberated, and dare I say even joy. Sure, I had the initial fear of how will I make money to pay my bills, but that quickly subsided when I was told I’d receive a severance package. From that moment on, what other people saw as tragic, I saw as opportunity. And so, I began to do some soul searching to discover what it was that I really wanted to do. I had been stuck in a job that repulsed me at times for so long, I felt empowered to look for a career that I’d want to jump out of bed for. That’s when I came to the realization: I’m obsessed with digital media and marketing.

I mean OBSESSED. I’m on social media probably 80-90% of my day and I never get tired of it. I love reality television. I love watching E! News. I love watching TMZ, Entertainment Tonight, and engaging in all social media pertaining to pop culture. I’m not afraid to admit that I keep up with the Kardashians, they’re reality T.V. and social media gold. So then I began to explore my career options and what I could do to get some sort of formal training within the digital marketing field. That’s when I began to do my research on online courses and now I’m about halfway through my digital marketing program. It was with this training that I knew I could begin working on my fresh start. You see, I have a background in entertainment which I'm no doubt passionate about; and here in the Bay Area, tech is booming. This lead me to my opportunity. By combining entertainment, technology, and social media, I possessed the recipe for the perfect storm.

My advice for you if you're facing career change whether voluntary or not is to take it in stride. Breakdown, be pissed, crumble if need be, but then get up, dust your shoulders off and push through. Find the opportunity. Everyone’s situation is different, recognize what your needs are, make a budget, and create a plan. Have you always been looking to go back to school? Are you like me and you never really liked your job anyway? Is this an opportunity for you to start something new like launching your own business perhaps? Whatever your fancy, take a moment to breathe and assess. After you’ve got an idea of the route you’d like to go, research that industry. Join a site like Meetup to take advantage of networking opportunities. Did you know that 80% of jobs are found through someone you know? Get a résumé coach and hone your LinkedIn page. Rest assured, you may not see it now, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Here are few tips to assist you in your transition:

1. Discover a new hobby. Find an activity that helps your mental and emotional state whether that be yoga, dancing, cooking, or blogging, developing or improving self-care tactics will help you manage your stress. While I had found these things to be therapeutic after I lost my job, they are also great ways to cope with a job you dislike.

2. Sign up for apps. Apps where you can unconsciously make money like Robinhood (stock investment) and Ebates (great for online shoppers to get cash back) are kind of like your adult piggy bank.

3. Credit cards. I know, you gave me the side eye with this last one, but it’s true. Research credit cards that offer a high cash back percentage (around 3%). None of these methods deliver a huge monthly ROI, but collectively, they have the potential to save you over $1,000 a year.

4. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. I can’t stress this enough. Remember when I said 80% of jobs are found via someone you know? Well, no one’s going to know you if you don’t put yourself out there. Ask family and friends where they work, how they like it, and what they do. If you are close enough, see if you can get informational interviews set up just to get a feel for the different positions at a company. Don’t be afraid to meet people outside of your immediate network and build a rapport with them. Meetup is great for finding local events within your industry where you can meet new people to grow your network.

5. Create networking cards. These are similar to business cards, but don’t have a company listed on them. You can put your expertise (freelance photographer, graphic designer, financial analyst, etc.…) on your cards along with your name, email, phone number, and social media platforms for people to connect with you. Believe me, it’s much better than haphazardly writing your information on a napkin that can be later mistaken for trash.

6. Utilize the hell out of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is an amazing professional social networking site. It is also a fantastic place to research people in your industry and connect with them. If you are looking to go into a new industry, you should know all of the top people within that industry. Look at their pages, the wording used on their page, where they’ve worked and mimic it where you can. Tailor your LinkedIn profile to match industry leaders. What buzzwords are they using? What’s their headline look like? How about their profile picture? I’m not saying lie, everything on your page needs to be truthful, but if you want to fit in, what can you do to make your profile look more like theirs?

Photo Credit: Samantha Tyler Photography

Photo Credit: Samantha Tyler Photography

7. Volunteer. It’s a resume booster, it’s a way to break into a new industry, and it’s a great way to serve your community. Positive vibes all around!

The most important lesson that I have learned from this experience is to not be afraid to take that leap of faith. Don’t let fear of the unknown cripple you. You may not land unscathed, but you’ll land on the other side with a world of opportunity awaiting you.

Keep Inspiring!

XOXO - Mechelle