Getting fired is stressful. It is unpredictable and it kills confidence. It sucks. However, I learned that getting fired may also prove to be one of the best things that could happen to you.
My career was always important for me. Even my first part-time job in a coffee shop (Tim Hortons) felt like a big deal. I just turned 16. It was my second year in Canada. Getting a job was a big milestone, and I was really proud of myself. A month later, when I didn’t find my name on the schedule for next week, I knew something was wrong. I was so worried that I could barely speak.
When I learned that I was actually getting fired, it felt like the end of the world. I cried. My supervisor cried with me. We cried together literally like someone died. My dreams were crushed. All the fears I ever had just fell on me – I will never find a job, I will never have a career, etc, etc. I was really gloomy for a week.
Then I started applying again, but this fear of rejection taught me something good. I became more organized. I never came in late. I learned to take a job, any job seriously. So two months later, I found a job that was actually easier, less stressful, closer to home. I even had a union and a part of my salary went towards my pension (which is really cool if you are just a teenager). More importantly, the first rejection taught me to develop self-discipline. I became a perfectionist at my job. I was just a cashier, but I was the best cashier. I mastered the bagging of groceries so that people knew me and I had about 10 favorite customers who would come only to me, and even bring me candies and favours on holidays. I knew where each item lied in the store, and I could help people look for things, even though it was technically not my job. I memorized all codes for all vegetables, fruits, large items, anything that had a code – I knew it, and all other cashiers would come to me for help. I became excellent in customer service.
When I decided to leave my job two years later and come back after a year- they took me back same day, without an interview. I even participated in making a short movie clip about Sobeys and how to pack grocery bags (they used short clips to train new staff).
Then I had another time in my life when I was fired. It was even more unexpected. I was promised promotion but suddenly the organization ran out of money and they had to fire staff. I was told a month before my wedding, after I just moved out from my parents’ place and signed a lease for a year, that I won’t have a job in a month. For a day I was very depressed. Just like when I was 16, I felt like I got a slap in the face.
Then I collected myself and began applying to other places.
In fact, being fired proved to be the best experience because:
- I started looking for a better job, instead of settling for what was available.
- I learned that it is better to have a unique experience than years of experience doing the same thing
- Losing job made me bold in my approaches to job seeking since I had bills to pay and no longer had a safety net. I would apply to jobs I would not dare to apply a month ago when I was employed
- I started reading more about my field and jobs available. I learned about the market, about trends in my field, understood where I should be to be more successful in my career
- Before getting fired, I was working in a dying organization, with less than 10 employees most of which were 50 years or older. Nothing was changing or developing. I knew it was not where I wanted to be but I stayed there hoping to get a permanent position. Now I know for sure it was not worth it, even if I did because I was not developing, I was not happy, I was not moving anywhere.
- I learned that the best way to find a job is to have as many people as possible know that I am looking for a job. Out of desperation I reached out to my professors from university – who knew someone who knew someone and eventually my resume ended up in right hands
- I learned to present myself better and more effectively, from elevator speech to effortlessly having discussions about latest trends in my field with a director – while a month ago I feared speaking to the director, not being able to communicate clearly out of fear
- I learned to imagine, up to little details, where I wanted to work, what I wanted to do and how good I would feel.
Because I got fired I was able to find a job that I would never even dream about, skipping two levels in seniority, in a dreamy location and in the field that I never thought about working. So never give up, because challenges that you get may be not a barrier but a step up to something better, greater and more exciting.