September 15th, 2019
Well this week has been pretty awesome. I’m not only turning 35, BUT I got laid off! All jokes aside, it has probably been one of the worst weeks of my professional life. For the past 10 months, I have been working for a startup company; where I worked 70 hours a week, and literally put my social life on hold to build something from nothing. Although most of my friends would tell you that I was pretty much always unavailable on the weekends because I was working, I truly felt like it was worth it. Working has always been a huge part of my life, ever since I was 17 years old and working at Pappas Burgers as a hostess. I pride myself in that I love working hard and seeing the results, but this time, no matter how hard me or my team worked, it wasn’t meant to work out. I’m sure as most of you know, there is a great amount of risk that goes into working at a startup company. There are twists and turns at every corner. Things are always changing and evolving, sometimes for the good and bad, but this time, for me personally, it was for the bad. My company was pivoting into something completely different than I was working on, and dissolved all of the markets in Texas. It was a HUGE blow to my ego, and I honestly felt lost the second that it happened.
For the past 10 months, I had become so accustomed to working from 8-8 that I honestly forget what it was like to have time. Now that I do, I find myself bored and depressed. As of right now, I go to Starbucks, sit there for 5-8 hours applying for jobs and contacting people, and then I literally sit there any think, whats next? OK I’ll go home take a nap for an hour, and then what? OK then I’ll go to yoga class, and then what? It’s like a constant longing for something to do that never ends. The hardest part is the night time when I’m sitting at home by myself watching Netflix. I hate it. I used to watch all sorts of awful television during the evening time, but that was usually after I had worked 12 hours and was exhausted. Now, I’m wide awake, not tired, and sitting there, doing nothing. It’s VERY hard for me. Not to mention, lonely. It’s been very difficult not having someone to rely on… someone to talk to everyday and explain how you are feeling. But the amazing part about this is that my friends have been amazing through this all. They constantly text or call me and ask me how I’m doing. There was one night where I literally talked to 5 of my friends for hours, just so I wouldn’t have to be alone with my thoughts, and I know they all have busy lives and their own stuff going on, but they took the time to talk to me, and it helped me more than they will ever know.
Something that I have also realized is how much self worth I get from working; maybe to the point of being unhealthy. I think I have forgotten what it’s like to have a weekend to do absolutely nothing. Sure, I have had a weekend here and there to myself the past few months, but I find that when I do, I go all out, party, and live it up because I don’t often do that because I have to wake up early the next day for work. I find that if I’m not making money or being productive, then I feel like I accomplished nothing for the day.
(I clearly didn’t finish this entry)
October 29th, 2019
Almost 2 months have gone by, and it has been freaking hard. Every. Freaking. Day, is a challenge. I have applied for a ton of jobs, had interviews, some good, some not so good, and I made it through some rounds, and some, I didn’t even make it past the first round, even though I thought I did great! Something I have learned, and keep reminding myself, is to not get excited. It’s hard! Sometimes I think I got it! And the next day, BOOM! Rejected. It’s just a part of the process, unfortunately, and It doesn’t get any easier. Being rejected in your personal AND professional life is very, very difficult. It makes me feel, well, very unworthy, of anything really. I know its not my fault that I got laid off, but sometimes it sure does feel like it! It all feels very personal, but I keep telling myself, both in dating and when applying for jobs, if it doesn’t work out, then it wasn’t the right one. And that’s ok! Easier said than done, but I literally tell myself that every single time a date is meh or a job rejects me.
I’m also so bored. Nothing has changed in that regard. Something I have done, is created my Goals For Today, #GFT, and share them on my instagram. I literally write down all of my goals, whether it is as small as making a call, going to yoga, or going to lunch with a friend, or as critical as applying to 3 jobs. Because really, when you think about it, it is very, very easy to sit in your bed and watch Netflix all day when you don’t necessarily HAVE to be anywhere. And for me, it has worked. It holds me accountable, when I have people looking at my goals, I almost feel obligated to at least complete a majority of my goals. I also noticed, that when I don’t post it, I don’t do as much. Strange, but it’s really true!
Just yesterday, I was feeling really, really down, I didn’t post anything about my goals or what I was doing, and I literally didn’t get out of my bed until 5pm. And you know what, because I didn’t do anything, it really didn’t help me to feel any better. I know that if I would have gone out earlier, I would have felt at least a little better, but I didn’t, and as a result, I felt like shit all day. But when I got up at 5, put on my workout clothes, and literally was in the elevator on the way to my dance class, I almost instantly felt a little better. Why? Because I was around people, doing SOMETHING, even if I wasn’t dancing full out because my brain wasn’t really very happy, I still felt better than I did before. So moral of the story is, if you are feeling down, even if you don’t want to do it, FORCE YOURSELF out of bed. Go take a walk around the neighborhood, go sit at the lake, go have a cup of coffee (or tea in my case 🙂 ), go to dance class, go to lunch with a friend, or read a book. Do it. Trust me, anything is better than sitting at home by yourself and dwelling on the negative.
I’m not going to lie, I was feeling pretty down the past few days. I actually cancelled my gym membership this morning because I thought that I wouldn’t be able to afford it. Turns out, you can’t cancel it anyways and have to give them a 30 days notice, so automatically, I’m a member for 30 more days. Yay! Which is actually a great thing, because I don’t think I would be in good shape if I didn’t have my dance or yoga classes. They have literally been a savior. In a lot of ways, they gave me a purpose, something to look forward to, something to put in my schedule, and bonus, I got to see my friends! Working out has been so critical for my mental and physical health during the past two months, and without it I would literally be lost.
About an hour after I got home from cancelling my gym membership and taking what I thought would be my last dance class for who knows how long, I took a nap, yes I took at nap at 12pm. Don’t judge! I didn’t have anything else to do! While I was sleeping, my phone rang, and it was the recruiter from the job I have been interviewing for and REALLY wanted. This job will give me the opportunity to grow, learn, maybe move to another city, and it’s a large company that deals with TRAVEL! My favorite thing! 🙂 🙂 . Hey, it will definitely help me to get to my goal of going to Burning Man this year, so added bonus right?!
I picked up the phone and he said, “Hi Casie! How is your day going? What are you up to?” And of course I didn’t tell him that I was taking a nap at noon, but I said I was applying for jobs, which I HAD been doing before my nap. And he said, “Well, guess what!? You don’t have to apply for any job anymore!” I nearly passed out. I got the job. I literally fought back the tears. Words cannot express how happy I was.
Here are a few tips that I learned along the way:
-FOLLOW UP! There were 4 interviews that I got purely for the fact that I sought them out via Linkedin. Two days after I sent in my application, I emailed them my resume, and told them why I would be an asset to their company and explicitly asked them to set up a time to chat at their convenience this week. I emailed CEO’s if it was a smaller company, VP’s of HR and/or recruiters. I would email at least 2-4 people from every company that I could find contacts at. While each person didn’t reply, usually one of the 3-4 of them would. Most importantly, it makes you standout from other applicants, and demonstrates that you really want to work for their company, and I guarantee most people don’t take that extra step to do that.
-ASK FOR HELP! I suck a this one. Whenever I interviewed at a company, I would look up on LinkedIn who works there and see if I knew anyone who A: worked there, B: knew anyone who knew anyone who worked there, and then I would reach out to them to see if they could forward my resume along or have a referral link. I know that sounds confusing, but basically LinkedIn shows your 3rd and 4th degree connections, so definitely use the connections that you have to your advantage. The worst thing that could happen is that they don’t respond and/or say no. Also, if I was applying at a large company, for example, Uber, I posted it on my Facebook feed and asked for help if they knew anyone that worked at corporate. If you want to work for a large company such as Google, Facebook, or Uber, typically, it helps to get a referral and literally puts you on top of all other candidates, and trust me you want the help. There are literally hundreds of people who apply for these jobs. Also, I was very lucky in that people would send my resume over to people they knew. If someone is willing to send in your resume for you, take the help! I had coffees with people who were industries that I probably wouldn’t typically be interested in. But in all honesty, I was grateful that people sent me any connections, and I took advantage of every single person who offered their assistance. Even if I ended up saying no to the opportunity, it was good practice to have an interview, it never hurts to build your network in other fields, and who knows, they could refer you to someone else.
–PRACTICE and SELF IMPROVEMENT! So at first, I sucked at interviews. Getting into the swing of being asking these questions, in a quiet space, while you are nervous, is kind of scary at first, and I’m a pretty outgoing person. So, that being said, especially since most companies these days are doing a phone or video interview before you actually come in to meet them, after each phone interview I would sit down and think about what I could improve on and what questions they asked that I could have answered in a better manner. After thinking about it, I knew that one thing that I could improve upon is being more concise. If you know me, you know that I talk A LOT (I mean you see how much I write, imagine how much I talk) ! And as a result, I really focused on it whenever I had an interview and I think it was something that I made a massive improvement on over the two months.
In addition to working on talking too much, a friend of mine sent me some videos for improving your phone interviews (if you want them I’m happy to send them over). While a lot of it might seem like common sense, it really helped me! The most common sense tip was SMILE! Even if you are just talking to the person over the phone. When you smile, you can really tell a difference, and it oftentimes makes you seem more enthusiastic. For one of the video interviews I did for a large company, I had to record myself answering 10 questions, I had 2 minutes and 2 tries to answer each question. One thing that I made sure to do was SMILE before I started talking, and SMILE after I finished answering each question. 20 minutes after I completed these video recordings, the recruiter called me and said, YOU SURE DO SEEM ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THIS ROLE and you did a great job!
-DARE TO ASK A STRANGER FOR A JOB!: The first day of unemployment I sat at Starbucks while I watched this guy who worked for GrubHub corporate, interview someone for a job. I went up to him, told him my situation, and he gave me his card and said to text him and he will send me a referral code if I see a job that I’m interested in applying for. While I didn’t get the job, I know that it definitely helped to have a connection just in case I had questions and it also put my resume ahead of others!
Something else that I did, which I truly expected 0 response from, was that I reached out to an influencer that I follow. Well, actually it was the husband of an influencer that I follow, because he started this dog related company in NYC, and the company was doing amazingly well and the culture looked like a place anyone would want to work at! I saw an ad on a building for his company in Dallas, took a photo, sent it to him, and said, “Company name, in Dallas!” Then I wrote to him explaining that I was working for a startup company, and developed the entire Dallas market… blah blah, but that I also have been watching his company grow and excel, and if we could set up a time to chat about potentially opening up a Texas market. We ended up sending a few emails back and forth, and setting up a phone call, where we chatted for about 30ish minutes about potentially having a position in Dallas. While startups oftentimes take a long time, to create positions, and processes, I was just grateful he took my call, and replied to my messages. Worse comes to worse, I have a new contact that I can reach out to if I’m ever back in NY and if he needed help, I would be happy to lend my guidance! Moral of the story is, it never hurts to ask! If you want the job, go out and get it, even if the position you want doesn’t exist yet!
These two months have been some of the most challenging of my life. There were times that I wanted to give up, I felt like a loser, and I felt like I would never find a job. This is so stupid, but when people asked me on Bumble what I did, I was so very embarrassed to say I was unemployed and got laid off, but I did… and surprisingly people weren’t as harsh as I thought they would be. Turns out, so many people, many of whom I know, have been laid off before. Sure, it wasn’t the proudest moment of their life, but they made it out alive, and so could I, and I did, and just know, if you are ever in this position, SO CAN YOU!
I just want to leave you with one thing…
To every single person who reached out, sent me a job posting, sent me a contact, texted me to ask me how I was hanging in there, called me, listened to me cry when I was down, made me dinner, took me to dinner, invited me out, bought me a drink, sent me your positive vibes, good energy, or prayed for me, or simply asked me, how are you doing;
I owe you so much, and I am so appreciative to have all of you in my life and it is truly what kept me going on days when I was down. Some of you I have known for half of my life, and some of you I have only known for a couple of weeks. And just know, every little bit of encouragement and words of advice helped more than you will ever know, and I am beyond grateful for each of you.
Because of this experience, all I can say is that I will pay it forward… if you need words of encouragement or truth, or help with a resume or want to practice interviewing, I’m here to help you in any way I can.
Because all of you were here for me.