This is part one in a four part series. Click here to read my introduction to the series.
Part 1: My Unemployment Story
As I stated in my introductory post, I worked for my previous employer for five years. It was my first job after graduating from college and it was my first time living in a big city all by myself. It was a relatively small start up company and we only had a handful of employees. I started my programs from scratch and I managed five projects and two employees, and I also ran an organization in the community.
To outsiders, everything looked amazing. Our organization was regularly featured in the news, we were winning awards, and we were earning big partnerships with other companies. However, something was very off. I’m not going to go into any detail as to what happened to the company. All I will say is that it no longer exists.
I can honestly say from the first day I was working there I noticed red-flags all over the place, but I chose to keep ignoring them. I think the reason that I stayed in that job longer than I should have is that I had nothing to compare it to. I thought that the things I was experiencing at work were normal, although when I spoke to my friends and heard stories about their jobs, I quickly realized that I should probably grab my life vest and get off the sinking ship before things got too bad (spoiler alert: I went down with the ship). Things went downhill quickly.
Red Flag #1: Other employees got laid off, but management said that it was just temporary until things got sorted out.
Red Flag #2: Board members started stopping by “just to say Hi.”
Red Flag #3: All meetings started occurring behind closed doors.
Red Flag #4: Staff meetings started becoming few and far between.
Red Flag #5: The shredder was being used so often that it actually seized up and died.
My coworkers and I were called into the conference room. We received our layoff notices, but we were told that it was potentially just temporary until things got sorted out (sound familiar?) I cleaned out my desk, put in my request for my final vacation days, and started trying to figure out what to do next. My lease was about to expire, but I had already renewed it for another year. I had bills to pay. Where was the money going to come from?
I was faced with a decision. I could either stay in Philadelphia and take a retail job to make ends meet, or I could move home and save money and apply to graduate school. The decision was hard, but ultimately I decided to move back home. I had lived in Philadelphia for half of a decade and it never felt like home. It wasn’t for me, but I kept trying to make it work because I was “living the dream” on the East Coast and I didn’t want to move back to the South.
It took me a few months to cope with leaving my life in Philly behind, but a few unexpected events showed me that making the decision to leave was one of the best decisions that I have ever made.
Stay tuned for Part 2: The Aftermath.