Starting over: Stories of job loss and gain


From the Financial Post – Sarah Treleaven, January 09, 2009

Licia Donadonibus
Age: 40
Occupation: business analysis and training, Sage Software
Termination: December, 2008

It’s been quite a wild ride. I’d been with the company for seven years. Having trained most of the clients, I thought I was fairly valuable, but I guess no one’s immune to downsizing.

I was informed Dec. 2 and was let go on Dec. 9. My boss IM’ed me and asked me to step into his office for a second. My spidey senses were up and I knew that it wasn’t all kosher. There were a lot of closed-door meetings. But I can’t take it personally – it’s the bottom line.

The feeling is one of witnessing a crash. It really didn’t sink in until three or four days later. I thought I was the only one on the team until I realized that it was a bunch of other people, including my manager. We all went and had a lovely lunch. I had two glasses of wine and walked it off before I drove home. I worked out the week, so I had somewhere to go the next day. Some people didn’t and I think it was much harder for them to just be told that their stuff would be ready to pick up in a box.

I did panic: ‘Oh my God, I need a plan!’ I was waking up in the middle of the night and thinking about the MasterCard I have to pay off. But the advantage to times like these is that everyone’s in the same boat.

Barbara [Symmons, a career coach,] was the first person, after my partner, that I called. I asked about my options. I think that was key to maintaining some kind of equilibrium rather than going off the deep end. We put together a plan and she gave me suggestions for books and references. And one of the best things she said to me was not to do anything for the next week because I wasn’t in dire straights. Instead, I hit the gym every day in order to eat up that anxiety.

I loved my job. I had a real personal relationship with these clients. They would say, ‘hey, how’s your dog doing?’ [But] I had been thinking about making a change. In the back of my head, I always thought of myself as an artist. I had started to take classes again and get back into the community as a portrait painter, which is what I wanted to do.

Now, with the downsizing, I’m talking to a number of potential clients about consulting and I want to run it so that I have one day a week to myself for painting. I found studio space. My sister-in-law, who happens to work in the financial sector, has a lot of contacts and she’s been mentioning that I do commissioned portraits and I’ve already got two lined up. I’ve been talking about this for a while, so I feel like it’s the universe giving me a big open door, saying, ‘put your money where your mouth is.’

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