The layoff

Jan 20 2017 Published by under job search, lack of jobs

I’ve heard stories of it happening. I know it can happen. It has happened to plenty of people. But to me? It couldn’t happen.

But it did. I was laid off. With one month of notice. In some industries that is plenty of notice. In academia, in science, it is no time at all.

I had already been on a path to discovering a new career and I was already unhappy with where I was. I tried to take it as a blessing in disguise. At least it was a push to find something else, maybe even something better.

But a month. A month is no time to find a job. My PI told me his health made him do it. He would be cutting down his hours in the new year so he wouldn’t be able to focus on my project. It is not worth worrying about how much this is true versus an excuse. Certainly my project was not his favorite anymore. It took too long. It was too slow. But I am the only one out of 7 postdocs to get a pink slip. Also there were complications. I told him I don’t want to be a PI. I was working less than full time. Then there is the other thing. Someone said it and now I can’t get it out of my head. I was paid on the postdoc payscale. Most others were paid less. Anyway, it is not worth worrying about why I was laid off … is it?

Regardless, I tried to stay positive. I tried to use this as a kick in the butt to find something better. At least a step in the right direction. I applied to more jobs than I ever have. I pursued more options, branching out beyond my comfort zone. I considered alternatives like freelance scientific editing and tutoring.

In the end, at the point when I was really starting to think I’d be unemployed, I was offered a six-month postdoc position in a collaborator’s lab. It is not my dream job and it is not permanent, but it is a good right-now solution. It is better than losing money on daycare while doing freelance editing (I can’t be sure but I don’t think I would break even with daycare costs). No other application came to anything and my emotional energy has been eaten up with all of the applying, looking, and one enormous surge of effort – a phone interview that got me nowhere and left me feeling worthless.

I know job hunting is painful for everyone. I know that I am not worthless. I know something will work out. Regardless of where I end up, I believe that being laid off was for the best. Looking back, my situation was even more toxic than I could see close up. It beat me down in ways I couldn’t see how to get out from under. My new department is much friendlier. My new boss is much more human. I am going to take this month to collect myself, to regroup.

Then I will get back to figuring out what’s next.


6 responses so far

  • potnia theron says:

    Honey, hang in there. I am glad there is a good-for-right-now solution. It will give you enough time/space to think and work without total panic or being a freelance editor.

    Remember you have community here that can give advice, but will always give you a shoulder to lean on, and hand to help pull you up.

  • Nat says:

    Ugh, sorry to hear about this!

    But at least there is a current thing that could help as a bridge to a new step. And already the general environment sounds like it's an improvement. Hang in there!

  • Socal dendrite says:

    I have been doing a mixture of freelance scientific editing and teaching since being laid off from my 3 days/week postdoc position (I had been a postdoc for 7 years and switched to part time for the last 6 months because of a variety of issues - including some postnatal depression - but it sadly didn't work out, despite my PI and I giving it our best efforts). You are correct that editing is unlikely to cover the costs of daycare (depending on how many kids you have): I can just about cover the costs for one kid but definitely not two!

    We have stuck with the situation because we are fortunate enough to still be able to make ends meet (just) and because it is very hard to find other part time positions. We considered pulling the kids from daycare but (a) they like it and it is good for them to socialize etc and (b) being a full-time mom would not be good for my mental health or future career prospects. Freelancing also gives a lot of flexibility at least, so I look after the kids when they are sick etc (which was invaluable this year because my husband lost a lot of his own work time due a semi-chronic illness and couldn't afford to take any more time off). Oldest will go to public school soon, which will help financially.

    I do sometimes feel like I am clinging on to the vestiges of a professional life with my fingertips... but we will see what happens in a few years when I hope to more formally re-enter the workforce (or to have better built up my editing business - it is improving, but slowly).

    Sorry for the long post, but since our situations are somewhat similar I thought I would share.

    • peirama says:

      No need to apologize! I really appreciate hearing your story. It makes me feel better to hear about other people surviving similar situations even though I'm sorry you have to go through it too.

      I agree that daycare is really good for kids and also parents' sanity.

      Good luck with your situation and I'd love to hear more about where life takes you.

  • babyattachmode says:

    Ugh sorry this happened and I'd like to echo potnia's comment that we are here for you if you need help, advice or just a place to vent!

  • peirama says:

    Thank you all for your supportive comments! It really is great to have this community and like potnia says, a shoulder to lean on.

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