I Got Laid Off, Here’s What I Learned
On December 10th, 2015 I was laid off from my job. Trust me, no matter how politely they explain to you why you’re losing your position, being laid off sucks. Especially right before Christmas and New Years holidays too. It can wear down on you physically, emotionally, financially and even spiritually.
But hey it’s LIFE… Unexpected things happen that you have no control over. I kind of saw it coming, so I was a little bit more prepared for it. Working for a small company that does contract work with specific clients can be risky, therefore anything can happen when those contracts aren’t fulfilled. I was issued a separation of notice due to a “lack of work” and I completely understand why. Fortunately, I was eligible for unemployment insurance since I got laid off instead of being fired, but man I cannot survive off of that alone lol. But it was nice to supplement the other income that I had saved up.
Meanwhile, it’s back to the drawing board. I had to get back on my grind and hustle mode to look for a new job. Being a software engineer is a never-ending learning process. Technology changes literally every day so you have to stay on your toes and be ready. Every now and then I solve coding puzzles to stay sharp. I read up on the different software languages emerging and always review the core fundamentals of programming. Along with the experience that I’ve gained, I felt very confident stepping back into the job hunt and well prepared for interviews. Luckily for me, good software engineers are in such high demand so I received several offers within no time. The new job I accepted came with similar benefits, an amazing 401k plan and a nice 25% salary increase.
Earlier, I said I kind of saw me losing my job coming just from knowing how small companies operate with other clients. So, I stocked up my emergency savings throughout the year. I also didn’t use much PTO (Paid Time Off) in 2015 just to prepare for the worse. If you lose your job without being fired, they have to pay out all of your PTO hours in one lump sum along with your last paycheck. Honestly, with the unemployment checks, my last paycheck and accumulated PTO hours, I didn’t even have to dip into my emergency fund after losing my job. I readjusted my budget to maintain my current lifestyle in-between jobs.
Reality hit me hard and I realized that I can’t rely on just one source of income. I went from making over $60k a year to receiving $277 a week in unemployment checks. This was a humbling experience. It reminded me to never stay complacent and reassured me that it can all change in one day. I know you’ve heard the saying “Don’t you ever get too comfortable”. Well, it is absolutely true. Working a 9 to 5 job can leave you in a mind state of satisfaction. In actuality, nobody’s job is safe and nothing is guaranteed. Losing my job forced me to think of new side hustles. I look at it as a blessing in disguise. I learned that entry level workers can get a much higher salary increase if they switch jobs after a few years rather than the traditional 3-7% yearly increases if they stayed. I learned the importance of being mentally and financially prepared for the worse. I learned that sometimes you may not always like it, but change is good. Last but not least, I learned if you run your own business, you can never get fired =).