Back

Moving Forward After Losing My Job Twice This YearFeatured

When the Elpha team reached out to me to write this Spotlight, it was one day after I found out I was being made redundant. I felt angry when I first received the email because it felt like the universe was mocking me.

But then I realized my experience of losing my job (two times this year) is perhaps helpful for other women here, so I decided to share my story.

I lost my first graduate job in a week

I had successfully secured a job as a recruitment consultant six months before I completed my Master's in Digital Innovation Management. Although I wasn’t particularly keen on recruitment, I was still excited by the fact that it was a startup. I figured that there would be opportunities to carve out new roles for myself in a startup. I was excited about that prospect because I saw myself contributing to the growth of the business in multiple ways.

The company's CEO, the same man who interviewed and employed me, was so nice and helpful through the application process. Before I finally started, he would call me every once in a while to ensure I was still interested in the job offer. I was, to the extent that I had stopped applying for other jobs. I felt so grateful that someone wanted to hire me before I was done with school.

So I finally started, and to be honest, nothing was as it seemed. On my first day, I already knew I wouldn’t last there, but thought it would be me to leave.

The first red flag was that what I had applied for was “Recruitment Consultant”, but then on my first day, the title of my role was “Delivery Consultant”. I thought it was strange, but I didn’t mention it because I was still new and didn’t want to make a wrong first impression. I was also not immediately comfortable in the all-white male environment. They were older than me, and we had nothing in common, so I didn’t talk much as I was still getting used to the environment. The other female employee was on leave when I joined the company, but I never got the chance to meet her.

On Fridays, we could work from home. That Friday, I woke up to find out I had been locked out of my company outlook account. I sent an email to the CEO, and only then was I invited to a performance review where I was told I wasn’t a good culture fit. I still interpret that to mean I wasn’t loud or boisterous enough. After that happened, I was shocked and even hurt, but I got over it quickly.

Six weeks later, I landed another job at a company I adored.

What happened with the second job

I received an offer from the second job three days after sending my application. Everything was perfect and felt too good to be true. I was finally working in an industry I cared about with a CEO who was committed to my development and a team that was so welcoming.

There were so many exciting opportunities for growth for the company, and I wanted to grow into leading one aspect of it.

I was at the second company five months longer than the first. Any insecurity I felt about losing the job had long been diminished – until the 14th of July when the rug was pulled out from under me again.

As I got told I was being made redundant due to structural changes in the company, it was disorienting. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me again. However, I’m grateful that things were done cordially, unlike last time, and I was allowed garden leave to search for another job.

How I’m making myself indispensable to jobs moving forward

The first time I lost my job, I was so ashamed I didn’t tell anybody about it. One day, I just said, “oh, I’m working at a different company,” to my friends and they all just assumed a natural transition. During that period, I started a niche job board to advertise Tier 2 (Skilled Worker) visa-sponsored jobs. My intention was to make it easier for international students in the UK to find companies willing to sponsor their visas. As a former international student, I know how frustrating it is to reach the interview stage only to find out the company isn’t a willing sponsor. I couldn’t pursue that entirely because I focused all my efforts on my second job.

Now that it has happened again, I’m more vocal about my situation with friends and family. I’ve also been able to get a few jobs on the site by reaching out to companies.

Then, in the evenings, I go to the park to try and learn how to roller-skate. It always looked fun, but I thought it would be too hard—I mean, it is, but I love challenging myself this way. I’m also upskilling by volunteering to help a small business owner with Google Analytics so that I can get a practical understanding of the tool. Finally, I’ve started a newsletter on LinkedIn called Marketing Reactions, where I use python programming to analyze the responses of social media users to marketing campaigns.

I’ve stopped panicking about my situation. I’m confident I’ll get another job. Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying all the activities that keep me busy. I’m also grateful for the Elpha resource about how to bounce back from a layoff. It opened my eyes to the importance of building my network in this period. So now, I’d love to connect with other members of the Elpha community through here, LinkedIn, and otherwise. And feel free to subscribe to my LinkedIn newsletter. It promises to be insightful and fun!

nancymaher's profile thumbnail
Thanks for sharing your amazing story of resilience. It would be awesome to connect.
That first place sounds like a real trip. I might be wrong but isn't it illegal at this point to say 'not the right culture fit'? If, like you said, that entire company was otherwise white males, isn't that a blatant case of racism?(?? any employment lawyers in here?)
ifeomaigwe's profile thumbnail
Thanks Sharice but they did me a favour by letting me go, whatever the reason 😂
giovannadiaz's profile thumbnail
I needed this reading. I just got laid off myself and this was soothing to read. Thank you very much.
lyndachiwetelu's profile thumbnail
Thanks for sharing this. I really love that you did and that you also shared how you’re handling the feelings around this positively and moving on confidently. +100
annalee0807's profile thumbnail
@ifeomaigwe I"m so sorry for your experiences. And I love that you are also doing your best to have a positive perspective and continue to look forward. I too had been told the opposite in job interviews only to see what its really like when I join and suffer from it. You are doing everything right, being so proactive with your life, personal and professional and I'm excited to see you find success in your career and beyond! I am more than happy to be a connection and i'll totally take a look at your linked-in newsletter! how cool!
ifeomaigwe's profile thumbnail
Thanks Anna! It'll be great to have you in my network :)
zoyarnbsn's profile thumbnail
Thank you for sharing this - this happened to me also TWICE this year. No POCs and lots of red flags. I’m also allowing myself to have faith that I’ll get a job and networking and enjoying the break I’ve been given. Wishing you all the best!
ifeomaigwe's profile thumbnail
Wishing you all the best too!!
madeleinebong's profile thumbnail
Thank you for sharing! I was just laid off as well and looking at this as a good opportunity to hone down what I want in life and work on freelancing my Yoga business more. Who knows what the next chapter will provide.
emilygiddings's profile thumbnail
Authenticity FTW! Cheering on your success.! And I'd LOVE to see you in our roadmap community, which is about landing more valuable tech roles by practicing owning our Key results in interviews and growing our networks. We also connect members of our community with open roles at companies specifically looking to hire people with transferable skills from outsider industries. And lastly, my favorite, we host live workshops where we practice interview questions together and learn how to sail through the interview process to make sure we say yes to companies we'll love. It's free: https://roadmap.net
ifeomaigwe's profile thumbnail
Thank you I’ll definitely look into joining!
Seisei's profile thumbnail
Hi,First, congrats on being fired from the first job. The company sounds terrible and, even though you knew right away that something was off, it sounds like you might have given them more of your time than they deserved. In my experience (both observed and personal), women tend to stay longer than they should in abusive and toxic situations. While not having a backup plan is sometimes terrifying, they did you a favor by forcing you to prove to yourself that you're going to be just fine when something goes wrong.Second, there is probably not a lot you could have done to prevent the layoff. It sounds like they were anticipating growth that didn't happen, and the economy is in turmoil. When your job is dependent on someone above you being good at planning, the outcome of that is not on you. *Maybe* you could have done more to prove value, but given what you've shared, I doubt it. You were one of the first in, so you'll be one of the first out. It's that simple (not a great way to assess who stays, in my opinion, but that's a different conversation). Finally, kudos to you for all that you're doing in the interim. You're going to be a huge asset to anyone who brings you onto their team, not just because of what you already know but because your approach to a setback is to get back up and hustle. I hope you've given yourself time to grieve the changes, but it sounds like you're in good shape despite the obstacles. The thing you didn't mention is what you want to do next. What are you looking for and how can this network help you get it?
ifeomaigwe's profile thumbnail
Your comment is really encouraging, thank you.I’m trying now to transition into data. I think it’s the right next career move for me since I know some of the tools and I’ve just realised how much I enjoy telling stories with data. I guess what I want most now is for opportunities to work on projects to build my portfolio
Seisei's profile thumbnail
Let me know if you want an intro to a friend who went through a very similar pivot!
ifeomaigwe's profile thumbnail
thank you, that would be nice
susanlee's profile thumbnail
Thank you for sharing your story! That feeling of shame after losing a job and pretending that we're fine in front of friends is something many of us can relate to. The narrative that we can build a bullet-proof career worked thirty years ago, but now it's a fantasy. You're doing exactly what many of us need to be doing - creating content and trusting ourselves to forge our own path. I'm frequently on LinkedIn so I'd love to connect!
ifeomaigwe's profile thumbnail
Yes please let’s connect