It’s always wise to have a backup plan. This is a piece of advice that my mother often has given me. But I never thought that one month into my contract position as a Social Media & Online Response Specialist, I would suddenly find myself needing one. But as life often shows us, we should expect the unexpected.
I wasn’t technically “laid off” since I was never hired in the first place. I was a contractor. In the application for the position, it was clearly stated that the contract would last at least six months. I was excited. My goal had been to gain further experience in social media and marketing community management. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to get some entry-level experience. On top of that, the job was completely flexible. After the training period was completed, I could log on and start working whenever I want. There were no set schedules or minimum or maximum hours that I had to work.
I first found out about the position through a friend of my mother’s. She texted her one morning asking if I would be interested. This friend had already been working for the company for some time and thought I might be a good fit. Her managers had been looking to hire more contractors to handle the caseload of online reviews. So I applied, happy about the potential of having a job that was more in line with what I wanted to do with my career. And then I waited.
A week passed, then two. Nearly a month later I had heard nothing back from the company. I resigned myself to the fact that I had not been chosen and focused on studying for my bachelor’s degree. However, a few days later, the friend reached out to me by text asking if I was still interested in the position. She relayed to me that the company had to freeze hiring for some time but was now going through the previously submitted applications. That week I interviewed and was offered a contract.
I accepted and began paid training a few days later. The training I received was quite good and I really felt like the management was friendly and competent. After two days of presentation-style training, my cohort of fellow trainees and myself began hands-on training. This was also the first time that I began using Slack. Before we could publish any response to a review, we had to copy our response and then submit it to a manager. Though it seemed cumbersome initially, it was quite easy to do since we had a slack channel dedicated to us, trainees. Our managers provided us with constructive feedback, and we would make the necessary adjustments.
After five days of training, Management gave me the green light. I was now able to work on my own. Often, I would work early morning and into lunchtime. This allowed me to study in the afternoons and evenings, as well as take my younger brother to his after-school activities. I was quite content with how things were panning out. I had a job in social media, I was studying and keeping my assignments up to date, and I was finally getting my exercise routine together.
But that all changed one Monday evening. I had gotten the email during the weekend. Our manager instructed us that we were going to have an all-team meeting at 4:00 p.m., East Standard Time. This wasn’t out of the norm. The company regularly held biweekly meetings to give contractors updates about changes in procedures or special client requests. Also, all meetings were time on the clock, so none of the contractors felt like it was a waste of time. The head manager for the contractors always kept her camera on during the bi-weekly meetings. This time, however, things were different.
“I have some news to share with you all. Our company has recently been acquired by …” At that point, I knew what was happening before she even continued. I, along with fifty other contractors, was being let go. On Monday I got the news that my contract would end the following day. It was a tough pill to swallow and left me feeling disappointed. I had only been at the company for a month. There was no anger toward the managers. They had been nothing but amazing, and this wasn’t their choice. They themselves were being re-positioned in the company because the Review Response section was being totally eliminated.
The first person I told was my mom. Like most things important that happen in my life, she’s the first one I turn to. Even she was quite shocked. But there’s no use crying over spilled milk. So after I had my mini pity party, it was back to work. This time not as a Social Media/Online Review Response Specialist, but as an online TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). It had been my backup plan, something that I had done in my spare time, but now it was my main gig. Fortunately, it shared many of the conveniences of my previous position. I could log on and work whenever I wanted to and there were no required minimum or maximum hours.
While it’s not exactly what I wanted to be doing at this point in my life, I’m grateful that I am still able to work remotely. Flexibility is a priority for me since I continue to have significant responsibilities in my family life in addition to pursuing my bachelor’s degree as well. I’m still looking for another position close to my field of study. I recently interviewed for one position, but I did not get it. But one little setback is not going to stop me from chasing after my goals! So I guess the moral of the story is, when life gives you lemons … cry, and then make a lemon drop martini.
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