For the third year in a row, Bustle's Upstart Awards are honoring young women who are doing incredible things in the realms of business, STEM, fashion and beauty, the arts, philanthropy, and beyond. Want to be an Upstarts honoree one day? Read on for career tips, insights, and inspiration to help get you there.
There are few things that seem more terrifying than getting fired from your job — especially if you're young and just starting out in your career. It's understandable to feel shaken up and a bit down on yourself if you get let go. But, in reality, there are actually a lot of good things about losing your job. Of course, it's totally fine to feel sad or angry about what is undeniably going to be a bit of a rough time. But you should also remind yourself that being fired from a job doesn't mean you're disposable: it simply means you need to find a workplace that fits you better than your last one did.
I first moved to New York City over two years ago, literally the same day that I walked across the stage and received my diploma from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. About six months after moving to the city, I got a job as an assistant editor at a news startup that seemed super promising, and I felt like I was finally on the right path. Almost as soon as I started working there, however, I started to feel like it maybe wasn't the right fit for me. Yes, I was getting much-needed editing experience, but I also felt like I was being pushed to compromise quality for quantity. My dissatisfaction almost certainly showed in my work, and after only four months, I (along with three other employees at the already-small company) was let go because of "funding reasons" — which, needless to say, was not the most fun experience.
"[Being] fired totally sucks," Erica McCurdy, MCC, Life Coach, tells Bustle. "For most of us, quitting feels like we took control, getting fired feels like someone else took control away from us. Even if we didn't like the job, weren't happy doing the job, [or] wanted to get out of the job, when someone else takes the job away, it still feels like rejection and it can piss us off and make us angry."
Losing my brand new job certainly wasn't an easy time for me: I'd just gotten used to having a steady paycheck, and hadn't had time to build up a proper savings yet. But in spite of the finance-induced panic swelling inside me, I can say with 100 percent honesty that I didn't shed a single tear after getting fired. Yes, I was worried about my future, but I was also relieved, because deep down I knew I wasn't happy in the job and was only sticking around because I needed financial stability to keep living in my favorite city. Even though getting fired or laid off can be scary, here are seven positive things about losing your job. Change can be good... if you let it.
If you, like me, were feeling a bit meh about your job before losing it, being fired actually gives you the perfect excuse to really get to the root of what does and doesn't make you happy in the workplace.
"Make a list of the things you liked and didn't like about the job," McCurdy tells Bustle. "Chances are, your list will start to naturally group around the same areas and issues. Were most of your negatives centered around the people or the type of work? Were the positives based on the industry or the money? Use this information to help you figure out what you do want next, and what you know will spell disaster in your next job. Being able to articulate what works and what doesn't will not only help you but will help all your friends look for that perfect next role."
Even though it can be tempting to wallow after losing your job, you'll get back on your feet faster if you're filling your time with lots of productive activities (including job-hunting, of course).
"All those things you have wanted to do but you used work as the excuse? Start doing them," McCurdy says. "The window just opened and you have the chance to say 'yes' where you had to say no before. That might mean getting that ombré hair color, going to see your family, going back to school, or relocating. Your chance to be brave? It's today!"
When you lose your job, it's easy to push the blame onto your employer in an attempt to protect your pride. But in the long run, it's important to self-evaluate after getting fired, and be honest about what things you might have done better at.
"We all have a share of the pie that is our responsibility," McCurdy says. "As painful as it might be, take some time to think about what your part was in being fired. Even in a layoff, there is usually some small piece of pie that you can own. This most painful part of the recovery process will help you overcome resentments you carry towards others, but most importantly, resentments you may not even realize you have towards yourself."
When you are hunting for a job, you have tons more free time than usual. Instead of going off the deep end and just socializing 24/7, use your newfound free time to have useful social interactions, with people who can help you network.
"Make a list of the 10-15 (or more) friends and networking contacts you haven't had time to connect with and schedule a coffee, lunch, or go for a walk," McCurdy says. "This is the time where your open schedule lets you be super flexible for them!"
If you're feeling sorry for yourself post-layoff, volunteering is the perfect way to use your time in a productive way — not only will it help others, but it will give you a positive outlet for your stress, and make you feel better, too.
"Get out and volunteer your time," McCurdy says. "Nothing gets us out of feeling sorry for ourselves like helping someone who is in a worse position. Go online or call a local charity and see how you can help. You will meet people you wouldn't get to meet other ways who might connect you to your next opportunity, and who knows, you may find you like it so much that you naturally fall into your next job!"
When you're working all day, every day, it's hard to find time to reorganize and refresh your living space. But after losing your job, you'll likely be spending a lot more time at home, so you should take the opportunity to literally declutter your life, which will pave the way for you to figuratively clean it up, too.
"When we do something mindless like housework, cleaning our cabinets or folding clothing, it lets our mind rest," McCurdy says. "During those times of rest, we often come up with our most brilliant insights about our life and our future. Put on some fun music, get all those household chores done, move furniture around, and see what thoughts bubble up."
After losing your job, you have the advantage of being able to move in any direction you choose career-wise. You don't have to follow the same path you were on: you can totally recreate yourself (professionally and personally) and figure out what you really want for your career.
"Getting fired is usually seen as a failure, but if you think about it, it's not," Erika Martinez, licensed psychologist at Envision Wellness, tells Bustle. "No one ever goes back and analyzes their wins for lessons learned. But the minute you start learning, growing, shifting as a result of a failure, it's not a failure. It becomes a lesson, an education. Unfortunately, our culture reveres the wins and doesn't like to talk about failures too much, which makes failing seem like a 'bad' thing."
Simply put, being fired is not the end of the world. Of course it may cause you some temporary stress, but if you're willing to put in the work and focus on bettering yourself and finding a new, even better job, you'll be back on your feet in no time.