It came as a shock. Luckily my husband was sitting next to me when I received the email confirming it so I had a hug straight away and his reassuring, positive reaction which helped.
I felt so many different emotions. Immediately I felt surprise and also embarrassment. Embarrassed that I had been singled out. There were of course others who were being made redundant at the same time, but it wasn’t a huge proportion of the company.
I felt like the most junior Scala engineer there so I also had the thought that if I was responsible for making redundancies I would have likely chosen myself too 😂 so it helped that I could see the logic in the decision.
I started apologising to my husband for being made redundant, which is completely silly and of course his reaction was that I had nothing to worry about. I guess I felt guilty that losing my job would impact us negatively. I didn’t want him to feel nervous and I didn’t want our live’s to be negatively impacted.
The next day I started to feel sadness, which I thought was a positive sign. The fact that I could cry about the loss was encouraging, because that meant I was starting to move on from the shock.
It was interesting because I spent a year researching, preparing and interviewing at different companies before settling on one. It wasn’t a perfect fit, but there were so many things I enjoyed, most of all the technical work I was doing.
It was interesting to experience the loss of something I worked hard to have. I feel grateful that this gave me the opportunity to practice loss of something loved. It will not be the last time I experience this. It’s good to practice it on something like work, rather than the harder things to lose.
Amongst the shock and the sadness I also felt a sense of relief, which was surprising to me. A little sliver of relief. I don’t have to work so hard anymore, I thought. The job challenged me in many ways and in some ways it was nice not to face that.
On the third day I started feeling a call to action. I added a “hire me” page to my website and put out a tweet asking if anyone would recommend any companies that were hiring. I was completely blown away by the response. This led to more crying 😂 but positive, grateful, happy tears.
I tend to be someone who tries to clasp her life in her hands, trying to keep everything together, clamped down in her control. Scared of what the world might send her way. Not able to lift her hands up to the sky and realise that there’s nothing to be afraid of. The response on Twitter was evidence to the scared part of me that I am held. That when things go wrong there will be people there, complete strangers, who will help. It’s ok to fall.
It’s the first time I’ve ever been able to go public about a job search, so it was fascinating to see all the different Scala jobs available. It was also great to reconnect with engineers I haven’t spoken to in a while. It was such an incredibly positive experience.
I then started interviewing and the thought I have about that was “it was tough”, but I’m sure that thought will change to “that was the turning point I needed and I’m so grateful that happened to me”. I had to do algorithms interviews that I simply have not practiced enough and also hard technical tests that call for creative engineering and I am again just not practiced in that yet. Give me a ticket, fine. But give me a problem that can be solved in multiple ways and I falter. It’s just where I am right now and that’s ok.
So, there was a lot to learn from that interview experience and I’ve completely changed what I do in my free programming time. I’m totally focused on algorithms and I hope to turn my focus to tougher technical tests too. I just don’t want to be caught off guard next time. I guess there’s the controlling part of me again 😂.
Looking back there were a few things that helped me to meet this moment.
The first was learning non violent communication and doing talking therapies including internal family systems therapy. All these things really helped me to sit with my emotions and be there for the parts of myself which needed my support and attention. I’m so grateful for this inner work, which I mostly focused on in the first half of the year. It continues to bear fruit in all areas of my life.
Second was speaking to sbt Eugene who oddly a few months before had spoken to me about his experience of redundancy. He normalised it for me and he was very sober when he said it would likely happen to me in my career and that it was just a part of being in tech. He reassured me that it’s not personal.
The third thing that helped was reading industry news. I had read about redundancies happening across tech and the signs an employee might notice in a tech company that is not doing so well. This helped me, because at the back of my mind, I understood this was happening across the market.
I think the main thing I have learnt from this experience is to be interview ready at all times. It sounds heavy when I say it like that, but I don’t want it to feel heavy. I mean to just do the best I can on this with the time I have rather than burning myself out trying to achieve this. I know that it’s possible to learn anything with the right support. I know I can get good at technical interviews.
The second learning has been that I am not in control of my life and the world! Of course I can control my reactions. I can control how I speak to myself, how I hold myself, how I love and care for myself. And I’m not alone. There are so many lovely people out there willing to help. I think I’m more easy going now. Less scared and less needing to know exactly what the future holds. Before I had a medium term career plan. Now I don’t. I have an idea of where I would like to get to, but I no longer have specific companies that I want to work for.
Just to note I did actually end up getting a job offer the same week I was made redundant 😂 so I was incredibly lucky! The offer was with 47 Degrees (now Xebia) who I ran the Scalabase conference with in 2021. I guess doing fun things in the community and getting to know people really does help with moments like this.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to me during this time. I really appreciate your help.