I was 5 months pregnant when I got fired. Fired.
I’d joined the startup after years of working for big companies – to build something that mattered, with my own (virtual) hands. And after a pop-up zoom call on a Friday afternoon, that dream was dead.
Hanging up from the call, I felt stunned and surprised all at the same time. While I’m not a perfectionist, I always thought I excelled at my job and suddenly found myself unemployed, pregnant, and my personal goals completely overturned.
So, like a breakup, I took time off; three weeks to be exact. I knew I needed to de-stress to ensure I wasn’t going to bring anything toxic into motherhood and my next project. And I also needed time to clear my head. I needed to evaluate where I had been working and what I wanted in my next phase of life.
During the next three weeks, I spent time getting to know all the stages of grief very closely.
First, I overanalyzed and thought about every interaction (including when my ex-CEO asked if he had misheard and asked me if I had adopted a new puppy when I announced my pregnancy). Yes, I talked a lot of sh** in my head about my previous bosses. And then clarity set in; the kind where you wake up, and you realize that the 4am telegram messages were just not your thing and those tech bros would never be your bros.
I spent the next few months working with different freelance agencies, learning that not all are one size fits all. Unsurprisingly, most of the other freelancers I met were new moms, just like me. We were all balancing careers, young children, and finding the right amount of interesting projects, financial stability, and just a friendly place to work and be supported as moms, women, and smart digital marketers.
Randomly, I answered a “looking for help” post from another Berkeley grad – we’d gone to school at the same time and just never met. Once Diana and I started jamming on a fintech startup together, we partnered to work on interesting marketing projects that also helped to subsidize working with clients that made a difference in the world. While we charged market rates for tech startups and for-profit clients, we also helped expand awareness of women’s sports and local city governments to drive tourism revenue for their local communities.
We also focused on building a freelance agency for talented marketers that want to work on amazing projects and have a life. For me, this means I am around for morning snuggles, breakfast, and afternoon playtimes while balancing a 25-hour work week. Sometimes, there are moments I miss my kiddo; however, I have been able to choose great start-up projects that have led to two clients going unicorn.
We now have a group that supports each other professionally and personally. While our kids make cameos during internal calls and we talk about everything from potty training to sleep schedules, we also troubleshoot paid social campaigns and build brands. I have my tribe of people – a place to call home.
So, during a time when other folks are facing layoffs or sudden changes in employment, don’t forget that there are other options out there. As someone who’s faced a sudden termination, I’m happy to chat or talk through freelance options.