I Lost My Job of Many Years. What Now?

I was at my lowest point. A profession that I had tons of skills in, a profession that I loved. A profession that–you know–had supported my wife, and my kids, and me for forty-one years–all of a sudden it was taken away.” – Greg Kronlund, PierceWorks!, Puyallup

When we believed that we would work and retire with a single organization, it can be an intense period of grief because we have not had to look for a job for so long. We can experience a similar sense of loss just like when someone we love passes away or when we go through a divorce. The shock can take its toll while we try to use what we used to use many, many moons ago.

For myself, it was a goal to diversify my skills and to try to utilize the opportunity to move within an organization from different positions so my resume and interview skills would always be sharp. What I discovered was, despite that insight to push myself into never explored roles with the same company, because of my professional network the ability to transition came easy.

In 2008 when the market crashed, I remember realizing that I could expect to be let go while watching the banks publicly meet about the economic state of affairs. I was only eight months into my newly found position that I loved with a company that I felt comfortable with. A few months later, I was offered another position as a contractor for the same company that my career was built in.

Three years, then four passed as I remained with that contracting group until in 2012 I discovered myself wondering what I was doing. What was I doing? I was really doing the same thing that I had been doing since 2006. Taking on a short-term assignment, I began to realize that it’s time to challenge myself with something new. After that assignment was terminated as a contractor, I had time to consider my next steps.

The PierceWorks! program was suggested when I marched into the college campus waving my unemployment papers at the sweet lady behind the admissions desk. As a seasoned worker who had worked in technology for most of her career, I did wonder.

What is this lady thinking? I need a class to help me get a job. What does this have to do with that if I already know how to use computers?

 

That attitude got checked. I sat in that course feeling irritated and annoyed. In retrospect, at first, I only listened to reply with my inner-dialog with, “Yes. Yes. I know that already.” Then, crayons were brought out. “Crayons? What are we, kids?” But, I went along with it. After a couple of weeks of this course, I began to hear others voicing their opinions with annoyance and irritation that was a direct echo of my thoughts. I looked at them as they stated how they felt and I realized that I was looking in the mirror. Did I like what I saw? No.

As we progressed, we went through another team building exercise that demonstrated very eloquently and with an immersive interaction that our communication happens in the central point of the initiative. Those of us who were on the outskirts, the outliers, we were rarely asked what we thought while those in the middle postured about the solution. As I battled my negative inner dialog, I suddenly heard the message.

Why didn’t anyone ask the people on the outside to participate in the decision-making process?

My ears perked up, “Wait a minute. What? That’s a very good question. Why didn’t I try to speak up?” Finally, she was able to reach me because now I experienced a direct reflection of my thoughts and my attitude. My attitude sucked. Looking back I realize how angry, bitter, resentful and entitled I was behaving. Shameful. No wonder I couldn’t get a job.

Sometimes, in order to progress, we have to check our attitude to venture into the waters of challenging what we think we know. We must investigate our overconfidence bias tendencies as seasoned workers to see how the world has changed around us so we can rise and soar. After completing that seven-week course, that was when I decided that it was time for me to face several fears. One of them being higher education and the voices of the past who told me that I couldn’t do it.

I’m here. I have achieved a dual degree and I am saying that with a little help and determination–yes we can! The PierceWorks! program changed my life forever. It flipped my very poor attitude and gave me a new lease on life.

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