“We Have To Let You Go,” Six Fiery Words No Young Adult Wants to Hear

scrabble pieces: "unemployment"

[Photo credit: Lendingmemo]

Being in your early 20s feels like being on top of the world. You’re young, energetic and looking to explore life. You think you’re first job is going great and then you learn about a little thing called, “Layoffs.” Your boss takes you to another room to tell you the expected truth, the job you had is gone and the world starts to crumble. Unemployment creeps into your vocabulary. You call your partner and even your parents to tell them the news through muddled sobs.

There are really only two roads you can take when something like this happens – feel sorry for yourself, or lift your chin up and take this as a learning opportunity.

I can give you this advice because I have been let go of a job in just this fashion. I was let go of my first job – a job I loved and saw myself growing into. But this was just not the happily ever after for me. I chose to feel sorry for myself for about 10 minutes and then I pondered the opportunities that were just given me and acted.

This leads me to my next advice. Find something to do with your extra time!

A List of Things to Do When You’re Unemployed

1. Travel Solo

Traveling can be a harrowing experience but one you will remember for the rest of your life. Whether you are wanderlust and go to exotic places or just travel across the country to visit a friend, traveling is a great way to think internally and, in the most cliché words, “find yourself.”

2. Become Civically Engaged

While interning at Engage! Cleveland, I have learned that the best way to network and find something you’re good at is to become civically engaged. This could mean joining a young professionals board, volunteering at a Food Bank near you, or going to networking events in your city.

3. Learn a New Skill

I have learned a lot from my partner and some of those things involved making beef jerky and building my own picnic table using a kreg jig. This is a great way to keep your mind sharp and feel productive at the same time.

4. Treat Yourself

This is a time where a lot of us would look at our budgets, crawl into a hole, and never go out again until finding a way of income. But sometimes, giving yourself a little TLC isn’t the worst thing you can do in this situation. Buy some new clothes for when you land an interview for that job you really want or throw down for some new headshots and an updated portfolio website. Do something to make you feel better and that will help you in your growth process.

5. Go Back to School

Once I finished wallowing in my self-pity after losing my job, I looked online for a new career. After not finding anything I could really see myself doing, I knew the right choice was to go back to school and learn another marketable skill. There are so many excellent graduate schools in the country or you could get another bachelor’s degree. Either way, choose wisely. Many graduate schools will give you free tuition and a stipend for becoming a graduate assistant to help out the professors.

6. Network

There are so many ways to network in every city you live; you just need to find your niche. In Cleveland alone there are over 80 young professionals groups that host events throughout the city. Research the groups in your area and go out to a networking event. They are usually much more than speed networking and actually a ton of fun.

7. Shamelessly Promote Yourself

I’m taking this right out of my favorite YouTuber, Tyler Oakley’s book. If you want to get that job, you will probably need to reevaluate your brand. Think about how you would like to focus your Tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn profile towards getting a job in your desired field. If you do something spectacular on this borrowed time, be sure to flaunt it and shamelessly promote yourself.

8. Find a Career

This is the not so easy part, but I know that you will find the right place for yourself in society if you use at least some of the above advice to your benefit.

Notice that I put this list in order from most fun to least. This should almost look like a path to follow with some avenues you can skip and some that you just shouldn’t look over. For myself, I learned to use power tools, I treated myself to interview clothing, I travelled to Nashville to visit a friend, and I ended up going back to school.

From there I gained an internship where I get to network every day, I shamelessly promote myself and gain followers from all over the globe and I’m currently looking for a career with two interviews already lined up.

There is a light at the end of this jobless tunnel – you just have to keep rolling, tumbling, falling, picking yourself up and walking forward.

If you have any comments or opinions, please share below! I would love to hear about any stories you have of quitting or losing your first job in early adulthood. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as well. I’ll be posting all of my content on social media.

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3 thoughts on ““We Have To Let You Go,” Six Fiery Words No Young Adult Wants to Hear

  1. Hey Abbey! When I first read the title of this post, I was thinking it was going to be tips for finding a new job after being laid off. It was refreshing to read about how it is okay to take some time for yourself between jobs to reflect and reevaluate what exactly you want to do. I think we get so focused on choosing the right major to get a good job and make good money that we forget it’s important to make sure we are doing what we actually want to do, and when you are in between jobs, that’s a good time to do something totally new, like change paths or go back to school.

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  2. This is great advice for people who have just lost a job, but it is also great advice for anyone in our generation. A lot of Millennials, especially those around my age (cough cough 28 cough), struggled to find jobs after graduation. We graduated during a rough time – right around when the recession it. All the opportunities available to those entering the job market a bit before us had vanished. We were still operating under the same general career advice as they had in a job market that had fundamentally changed. It doesn’t work the same way as it did before, and I don’t think it ever will again. You have to be much more specialized and have much more experience to get ahead these days.

    I know I did a lot of the things on your list before I wound up in grad school studying PR, so I know you’re on to something. Travel – check. Went to Japan because I didn’t know what else to do. When I got back I started looking for my ideal career in earnest, reading “What Color Is Your Parachute” and every other self-help book under the sun. Then I went back to school.

    I like that you mention getting another undergraduate degree. I took the grad school route, but sometimes I wonder if a second undergrad degree wouldn’t have been a better option. Experience is so important in the career I’m pursuing, and grad school kind of takes up most of your time. Experience is built into the undergrad program. There’s really no shame in getting a second undergrad degree if it gets you where you want to go, and for me that’s a job in corporate internal communication.

    Overall, I love it, and I can’t wait to see what else you have to say about adulting. I know this struggle pretty well!

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  3. Abbey:

    First and foremost, great first post! It takes a lot of guts to be able to put your personal experiences on the line for everyone to see, especially ones that some consider embarrassing…such as being fired from a job.

    I’ve never experienced being let go from a job before, but it’s certainly something that I keep in the back of my mind as I know I’m not immune to possibly being fired from a job at any time in my communications career. I think it’s sad that we have to think of this, but in today’s communication-based jobs one would almost be a fool to not think of it every now and then.

    While all of the points you made were well thought out, there were a few that really resonated with me: learning a new skill and networking.

    When it comes to learning a new skill, I’m a firm believer that one truly never stops learning throughout their lifetime. Someone would be a complete fool (and frankly, unemployable) if they were not willing to accept change and learn/adapt to new skills and things in the workplace. Look at me, I have a journalism undergrad but find it to be valuable to know a second skill such as public relations.

    Second, networking. I can’t stress this tip enough…especially in the communications industry. I know it’s cliché, but the communications industry is such a small world. Everyone knows everyone or someone in the business. Whether it’s a professor or colleague, someone knows someone who can potentially help you to get a job or move ahead in your career. One example that comes to mind…last spring I took my final broadcast journalism class here at Kent State (Advanced TV News Producing). We went to New York for a class trip and stopped by ABC News. Turns out the professor who took us on the trip used to be Byron Pitts’ news director (aka boss) when he was in Florida. Small world! Byron was so great and willing to help that he gave us his personal cell phone number, which still works! Networking at its finest!

    Again, great first post with great information and advice! Keep up the good work, and I look forward to more tips/tricks in your future posts!

    –Michael

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