Who: A 25-year-old PR consultant
Where: London, UK
What: One woman seizes the opportunity to re-evaluate her career goals after being made redundant
I started my career as a social media apprentice, gradually working my way up through public relations and social media roles. Eventually, I landed a role in an SEO (search engine optimisation) agency in central London. I’d been in the industry for six years and had been fortunate enough to work on some amazing campaigns with dream brands. My work has always been incredibly varied, and I’ve worked on everything from food to music, travel, and beauty.
In early March I was working with a client based in the travel industry. Every day we’d hear more information about coronavirus. At first, it made it difficult to come up with travel ideas that would be unique but also sensitive to the situation. My workload began to increase as we battled to keep clients happy in a challenging situation, and I was often working 14-hour days.
As the pandemic took hold I remained confident that I would keep my role. I was working hard to come up with campaigns adapted to the current market, and my company was quick to make adaptions to allow us to work from home. But slowly the amount of work started to reduce, and for the first time I felt anxious about the future of my role.
One Wednesday we all received a Slack message telling us there would be an important meeting after lunch. By this point I was exhausted from working through the pandemic, and I had a gut feeling that job cuts were coming. I was so nervous that I couldn’t even eat my lunch. On a Zoom call with the whole company our boss broke the news that we’d almost all been made redundant, with only a handful of staff remaining. The news was devastating, particularly as the redundancy would come into effect just two days later and I had only been at the company for three months.
I’ve always been entrepreneurial, and had done some freelance work in the past alongside other roles. I took some time to reflect on my career and consider my options, and decided that in the current climate working independently could be my best route. It would mean that I wasn’t relying on other people or companies who might also be struggling, and would give me a chance to keep on top of my skills and network.
Since then I’ve been using my expertise to help small businesses with their PR and SEO. I’m also setting up a mentorship programme called Insiders Insight, which aims to help people aspiring to break into the industry find their feet, and understand the fast-paced and technical nature of working in PR.
There are some downsides to being fully freelance. The income is much less stable, and because I have a strong work ethic I tend to go the extra mile and end up doing more work for my clients than I’m being paid for. I’m trying to work on being firm and setting boundaries, and I’m also enjoying the ability to have more control over the work that I choose to do. Overall I feel happier and less stressed out than I did before the redundancy, and have been making the most of organising my time in a way that suits me.
Being able to take on interns and mentees has been incredibly rewarding, and not something that I would have had the capacity to do in my previous role. I’ve also been working alongside my sister, which is always fun. I’m considering a career change into the education sector at some stage, so I feel that I have lots of options available to me, and that being forced to re-evaluate my career has opened my eyes up to what I could achieve. For now, I’m loving being able to come up with cool ideas and work to make them a reality. I hope I’ll be able to grow in this field, build a supportive team, and work with amazing clients.
Advice from Maya Gudka, an executive careers coach at Wonder Source.
Take Time To Process The Event
How do you feel? Are you sad or are you relieved? Write it down or talk it through with others – find a way to get it out of your head so that you can start the process of moving on.
Get Some Closure
If you’re working from home you might already feel removed from your organisation, but try and give yourself some closure. Safely going to return a laptop, having virtual leaving drinks, or even a socially distanced gathering with a couple of colleagues can all help.
Make This The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You
It won’t be plain sailing, but with proper reflection and strategic planning there is a chance to turn this into a brilliant opportunity to redirect your career. Utilise all of the resources you have available to you during your remaining days at the organisation, such as counselling, career coaching, or a consultation process. Have speculative conversations with as many colleagues as you can before you leave. There have been economic winners and losers from the pandemic – your next move might embrace this.
We have launched the Digital Sisterhood to provide women everywhere with the community and support they need at the moment. Be that a safe space to ask questions – and receive honest answers – or somewhere to find a digital event that will offer you the information, or perhaps the encouragement, you need to get you through the coming days and weeks. We’re here for you, so please do head to digital.allbrightcollective.com to claim your 14 day free trial and join our community.