How to Bounce Back After You Get Laid Off

Tuesday October 22nd 2013 started off like any other day. I had my morning egg whites, packed my lunch, hit the gym, showered and headed to the Law Firm. Chats in the kitchen over coffee, stacks of paperwork on the desk, cute pictures and calendars in my cubicle, nothing new. At around 10 o’clock, I got a memo to go to the conference room, so like every ambitious employee looking to advance their career, I grabbed my pen and notepad and skipped on over. I walked in to 9 women and the HR lady sitting around the table. Since we had a social committee at work, my naïve and overly optimistic self thought perhaps we are starting a women’s support network, wouldn’t that be lovely. I was beaming. I had a seat and in came two of the Firm’s Partners to deliver the news. We had just lost a major client and had to make major cuts. With their “deepest sympathy” and “heavy hearts,” we were being let go.

My entire world came crashing down. As I signed the paperwork, a stream of worrisome thoughts flooded my mind. I had no family in the city, no family in the country, I had just spent $2000 on a coach to start training for a fitness competition, I barely had enough savings, my gym membership was going up. I thought this only happened to people at the end of their career? Older people? This was my first real job My predictable, structured, balanced life had been turned upside-down.

Leaving the office, I overheard people calling their boyfriends, wives, cousins to come pick them up and that is when it hit me. I had no one. I was making my way to the bus stop on a cold October morning all alone, with boxes of supplies and eyes full of tears. It was one of the most heartbreaking and devastating moments of my life. The tears that rolled down my cheeks were tears of anger, betrayal, and most importantly fear. Fear of uncertainty. The future had never seemed so pitch black.

“Getting laid off, It will happen in your life time” – Warner Brothers Pictures Vice President of Integrated Marketing, Jill Benscoter

Earlier last month, Warner Brothers Pictures Vice President of Integrated Marketing, Jill Benscoter participated in a luncheon on campus, discussing her career path. The crowd was shocked to learn that she too had been laid off earlier in her career. What would she have done differently? We wanted to know. Lived. She responded. She would have lived, seized the free time to explore the things she loved and do them. Here is what I would have done differently and note to my future self, should I ever get laid off again.

What I would have done differently, I would:

Ask for space

Recounting the story to concerned friends, family and loved ones only revives the feelings of anger and confusion. Most loved ones bombard you with unsolicited advice and questions that you too are seeking answers to. Some times for your own sanity and stress management, you must say “I love you, but please do not call me every day asking me how I am, what I did today, what I plan to do, etc”

Know that not everyone will get it

The weekend I got laid off, a friend of mine called me to go out. After ignoring calls and texts that night and for days to come, I finally responded to one of her messages, clarifying that it was nothing personal and I had lost my job. She proceeded to tell me how bad of a friend I was for not picking up her calls. How can you be mad right now, I’m the one who lost my job! I thought. Unfortunately, I was so frustrated, I let that friendship go down the drain. Know that not everyone gets it or gets the depth of your fear and anger. Also understand that under such stress and anxiety, you may be snappy, emotional and sensitive. Don’t lose friendships over it.

Map out a new, or revised career plan that leaves me buzzing with passion

Playing the last 11 months at the firm in my mind over and over again, I realized I was neither interested in Law nor politics. I dug deep to the core of who I am and what I have always wanted to do and decided to apply for a Master’s in Global Media and Communications. Eventually I moved to LA, and couldn’t be happier with my decision.

Take conscious steps in the direction of you new exciting career

While I did use the time wisely to re-plan my life, I fell in the same patterns when it came to job applications. Funds were running low, and my previous internships and experience revolved around law, politics and customer service. About a week after my lay off, I found myself in training for a job at a call center. They say it’s easier to get a job when you have a job, but jobs consume time, energy and mental capital, so make sure you are making a wise investment of your resources. In this case, I wasn’t. I had worked at a call center throughout undergrad, and knew I hated it but hey, it was money. On day 1, I quit and received my luxurious check of $14.72 two weeks later.

Not everything has to change all at once

If you are lucky enough to have already paid your rent and recurring bills for that month, realize that contrary to popular belief, your entire world isn’t turned upside down. The only difference between today and yesterday is that today you aren’t waking up at 6 to prep for work. Most of the other things can remain the same for a few weeks before you have to be concerned with this life adjustment. Hopefully in that time, you can prepare yourself accordingly.

Go at your own pace

I was in such a rush to “get back out there” and while it is important not to let yourself get comfortable and sit back in a downward spiral, it is equally important to listen to your body. Cry when you need to cry, sleep in when facing the world may seem like one more task you aren’t quite ready for. What worked for me may not work for you and vice versa. Do not feel the need to abide by any timeline or routine. Your journey is different.

Realize it is not personal

If Jill Benscoter could get laid off and now be a VP at Warner Bros, I don’t think getting laid off speaks much to your individual abilities as an employee. I later found out that both men and women had been laid off, both white and nonwhite employees, and both new and veteran employees. In fact, one guy I know had been at the firm 8 years! There is little to nothing you could have done to prevent it from happening.

Four months later, as I got ready to start my new job at an international school, the firm reached out to rehire me. Walking back into the building, what I looked forward to the most was seeing my old friends. That was my confirmation that I had outgrown the work and it was time to move on. However, it made me happy to know that it wasn’t me and in fact, they wanted me back. I could give you a list of things to do: calm down, breathe, live, smile, volunteer and you can choose to apply them or not, but the reality is that getting laid off sucks. However, as much as it sucks, you will make it through, we all did.

How Beyoncé Slayed Black History Month: A Visual Analysis

If being that bitch is defined by “causing all this conversation”, Beyoncé is most definitely that bitch. Conversations on SNL, in comment sections, from Rolling Stones to Wendy Williams, Bey is a hot topic since the eve of the Super Bowl when she released her new hit single “Formation”.

At this point, unless you have been living under a rock- or are a grad student who never sees the light of day- you must have heard all kinds of conversation around Beyoncé’s “Formation”. “It’s racist”, “It’s the second wave of Black Panthers” “it’s uncomfortable to listen to it” “it’s feeding into black stereotypes” (re: “I like corn bread and collard greens bitch oh yes! You best a believe it!”).

I must confess, I have never been much of a Beyoncé fan at all. I have always argued that she was simply a business woman and entertainer who stood for nothing. She sang about feminism, or any other political issue only if it brought in the dollars, but never really believed for anything outside the studio. While this song still remains in the confinement of the studio and the stage, let’s assume that Bey chooses to stay in her lane and stick to what she is good at, i.e music, to take a stance. So here is how in 4min 53 seconds, Beyoncé wove messages into her music, making a statement of over 50 years of black history. OK ladies (and gentlemen), now let’s get in formation.

All black

Black Panthers 50th Anniversary: In October of 1966, in Oakland California, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Beyoncé replicating their all black attire in addition to berets and the Black Power fist at the Super Bowl performance and simultaneously mirroring the gold embellishment across the front in tribute to Michael Jackson was a tribute to black excellence over the last five decades – and overtone overload.

Panthers on parade at Free Huey rally in Defermery Park (named by the Panthers Bobby Hutton Park) in West Oakland.beyonce

Black Culture

The beat drops to begin the song at a quick glance of a man with lit grillz, shortly followed by another twerking in front of a mirror. Throughout the video, we see. Bey is reclaiming black culture and owning it. As Hunger Game’s Amandla Stenberg put it, “What if we [Americans] loved black people as much as black culture?” After the fury over Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift using black women as twerking props in their music videos, and other non-black artists and celebrities such as Iggy Azalea and the Kardashians robbing black culture at their convenience, Beyoncé reclaims the braids, the afros and even the wigs at the hair shop.

music video beyonce formation

Black Stereotypes

So now that Bey has claimed them, there is no using stereotypes of black culture to offend black culture. Get it? If someone says “you have a large nose, “and you already know and accept the size of your nose, the intended offense is lost. Bey showed the ratchet, the classy, the classic, the modern. She discussed the hot sauce, the nostrils, the baby hair, Red Lobster, Jordan’s while showing Mardi Gras festivities, black churches and basketball players. While I’m sure you can think of a lot more stereotypes.

Black Lives Matter

Mic beyonce identities poc black lives matter

This is the part that had me choked up. Overall the video theme is questioning what the American government did for the people of New Orleans in response to Hurricane Katrina. Furthermore, the little black boy dancing innocently in front of a row of police officers, and the officers raising their hands along with the boy suggests peace – not violence – between black civilians and police officers. The camera then glances over graffiti Stop Shooting Us. Is that too “outrageous” to ask?

Perhaps the sinking police car isn’t an insult to the police departments, but instead a demonstration of us all going down together if the violence persists. Note Beyoncé herself subsides with the vehicle at the sound of gun shots at the end of the video.

Black Empowerment

The video takes everything “negative” about blackness in mainstream media and affirms it with a black voice, asserting black identity in America. With this video, Bey conveys that this is how some black people may look and dress and talk and act, but we are here to get what is ours. African Americans have the right to pursue the American dream, and they too work hard (“grind”) until its theirs. What’s so uncomfortable with having the next Bill Gates be black?

The TimingFormation_BlackPanthers-DailyMailUK

Why the Super Bowl? You ask. No better time, I say, for her to perform her politically-entrenched hit when the world is watching. This left the message with the black and non-black alike, enclosed in the gift of half-time entertainment. Another great thing about the timing? It’s black history month, so hey!

The Conclusion

Beyoncé wins black history month, addressing the political, cultural, historical and contemporary state of blackness in America in less than 5 minutes. Bow down bitches.

And if you haven’t seen it, watch the music video below and then go back and reread this article.



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3 Keys to Success for Scoring an Interview at Your Dream Job

Over the last years, between full and part time positions, I have been called in for dozens of interviews, my first being with Google, after graduation (I got to the final round and they picked someone else. It still hurts.) and earlier today with Warner Bros. Now, I cannot tell you how to land the job or internship, because I haven’t always done so myself, but given my experience landing phone, Skype and in-person interviews with some dream companies, law firms and, I can tell you a thing or two about securing your foot in the door.

1. Have a stellar resume

BDR – Brief, Direct and Relevant. I was given a rule of thumb to have 1 page for every 10 years of experience. Go straight to the point, with approximately 2-3 bullet points per position, highlighting the professional traits most relevant to the position in question. A company like Google sees over 1000 applicants a day, you want to stand out, but more importantly you want them to actually read it, and not gloss over because it is too wordy. Avoid silly errors such as typos and inconsistency in font or format. Go to the career center on campus, have them critique it, then revise it yourself again and again and again. Compare it to others, but know there is no one-size-fits-all template.

2. Go in cold

You know the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Well hold that thought. When I moved to California in August 2015, I had zero network. Neither personally nor professionally and certainly not in entertainment. Within two weeks I was a publicity intern at Paramount Pictures. How? I made a list of the top 10 studios and applied for every open internship. With my stellar resume (see step 1) I caught recruiters’ attention. Do not be intimidated if you know no one, and most certainly do not let anyone tell you you are wasting your time. You have nothing to lose, but 10-15 extra minutes on a cover letter. Let your resume make a case for you.

3. Keep a Spreadsheet

My brother does this and I always thought it was a bit neurotic. Keeping a spreadsheet of what companies and what positions you applied for, while noting when you applied and key points that drew you to the position? Ain’t nobody got time for that! But you should make time, for it. I had just walked in from the gym last week when Warner Bros. called me for a phone interview. “Is it a good time?” she asked after having mentioned the need to fill the position ASAP. “Of course!” I responded, scrambling to turn on my laptop. Fortunately, when I pulled up the spreadsheet, I knew exactly what position I had applied for and had a link to the description, so I could engage in the conversation. A few days later, I got called in for a face-to-face! (fingers crossed).

Of course what is on your resume is what would most likely attract any recruiter to you, so be sure that you are keeping it fresh. If in school, join related clubs and organizations, volunteer, get online certifications, read about your field and become an expert in it!

Now that you’ve got it, good luck with the interview!

laugh emily blunt devil wears prada

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