Today marks the beginning of June. We’re officially halfway through a year that will be hard to forget.
In January, we saw the beginnings of what our world might look like if the Corona Virus (COVID-19) reached us here in America. One month later, we were told to begin social distancing and to work from home. In March, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 was rapidly increasing throughout the world. Stress levels were high. Thousands of people in the U.S. were losing their jobs with the immediate closure of all non-essential businesses. I was afraid the same would happen to me.
At the end of March, I was laid off from my job. I prepared as best I could, mentally and emotionally, but it still hurt once that day arrived. The number of people who lost their jobs jumped from the thousands to the millions. At the time, I felt optimistic about my job search, having over 2 1/2 years of experience as a Product Designer. The day after being let go, I reached out to friends, colleagues, and mentors to find some guidance on what I should do next.
In the beginning weeks of April, I hit the job hunt hard. I applied to over 50 companies, many of which I was referred to thanks to the wonderful people who reached out on Twitter. I talked with many recruiters, from companies I applied to and one’s that reached out through Linkedin for other opportunities. Overall, I felt like I was making progress and would find another job within a month of being laid off.
At the end of the month, as I was heading towards May, some doubt began to creep in. I heard back from about 25% of companies I applied to and they rejected my applications for various reasons. Most were entirely vague and came from “no-reply” addresses. That didn’t feel great. Regardless, I had already gone through 2–3 initial interviews with a handful of companies and continued feeling optimistic.
During the second week of May, I interviewed with a company that was at the top of my list of places I’d love to work for. Unfortunately, I did poorly on the 1-hour presentation where I ran into some Zoom (🙄) issues and began feeling extra nervous while presenting. I felt bad after the interview and thought I would be rejected at that point. Luckily, the hiring manager decided to move me forward to the final stage of a 4-hour remote “onsite” interview. In my eyes, I crushed that interview and was able to perform much closer to my actual capabilities.
Sadly, the team decided to not make an offer, mainly due to my years of experience. That hurt. Even more than being laid off, to be quite honest. I thought after making it that far, it would have led to some brighter news.
The rest of May was more of the same. I went through 4 more interview processes like the one mentioned before (1-hour presentation, 4-hour “onsite”), but they all ended up saying “no.” My optimism, which is one of the key traits I’ve been known for, was dwindling quickly.
Looking back, I’m grateful for the opportunities I had to speak with all of the different individuals and companies. I learned quite a bit about the interview process, figured out how to better talk about my work, and understand what it is I’m looking for.
The most interesting thing about all of this is that I’ve felt busier than I’ve ever been. While going through the job hunt, I’ve been contracting around 20–25 hours per week with companies in various industries. I’ve enjoyed that. Working with so many different teams on unique problems has been refreshing and has allowed me to grow as a designer. I’m thankful for all of the connections who have provided me with the ability to “get by” as I continue looking for full-time work.
To say I’m back to my optimistic, positive self would be a lie. Even though things are not the absolute worst in my life (thank you God 🙏), I still have been struggling. Struggling to produce the best work possible. Struggling to continue my day-to-day as hundreds of thousands of people have died due to COVID-19. Struggling to not have the ability to hug loved ones. Struggling to sleep because of the state of the world and our country. Struggling to see other people’s lives are not being considered equal. All of these things have been contributing to me not getting enough rest, exercise, mental load reduction, peace of mind, and so much more.
As we start this month, I hope we will continue making progress towards getting things back to normal. I pray that we all receive the help and love we need during this crazy year.