Since the beginning of college, I’ve worked many part-time jobs and internships to gain work experience. Although some of the former positions I held were nerve-wracking at first, and sometimes the pay wasn’t the best — or I wasn’t getting paid at all — I still gained valuable lessons from each job. Additionally, I’ve always been proud of the positive feedback I’ve received from the people and companies I’ve worked for. So, when I was fired from the job I landed right after college graduation, I was shocked, furious, and in disbelief. However, although I didn’t know it at the time, getting fired from my job would eventually become the best thing that ever happened to me.
Gen Z is already grappling with the challenges of the 9-to-5 lifestyle, and they are even choosing to “opt-out” of office life altogether due to the pandemic, a shift in work culture, and a greater focus on self-employment and starting side hustles. So, if you just got let go from a job, it can feel overwhelming and demoralizing. You might be wondering, What is my career supposed to look like now?!
While being laid off can be one of the most stressful experiences ever, I survived getting fired from my first job, and I promise you’ll survive it, too. Here’s why getting fired from your job isn’t the end of the world, how I manifested opportunities after setback, and how you, too, can make it through this hard time.
When I first entered the workforce, I was excited about the possibilities for my career.
My first “big girl” job after college was working as a musical theater instructor at a studio. I had moved to Atlanta for this specific role, and when I started teaching at the studio’s summer camp, I was enjoying it. However, there were many days where I felt overworked and underpaid — something that many fellow Gen Z-ers feel today. Even though I sometimes appreciated the “extra hours” on the job, I didn’t appreciate the workload and ongoing stress of having to mentally prepare for the tasks at hand. At times, it felt like I was given more responsibility than my teammates.
Over time, I started feeling miserable every time I showed up to work. There were moments when I desperately wanted to quit, but I tried to tell myself that things would likely get better.
When my work environment became toxic, my excitement quickly changed.
One day, I was suddenly let go from my company after missing a staff meeting. Despite me reaching out to leadership beforehand and letting them know I wouldn’t be able to make it, my boss pulled me into the office to discuss what happened, and ultimately let me go. I was dismissed from work and left the studio feeling a mix of frustration and relief. While it didn’t feel ideal at the moment, I realized that I might no longer have to deal with the stress of the role. This was the start of many opportunities to come.
Getting let go taught me the power of perspective and inspired me to pivot quickly.
Ironically, the exact same day I was let go from my job, I got a call from another company to interview for a new role! (Pro tip: Even if you enjoy your current job, it’s always nice to keep your options open — you never know when you’ll need to make a change). A few weeks before getting laid off, I had decided to apply for a second job as a dance teacher at a daycare center. So, when they called and offered me the job, I was super excited to start the new position; the pay would be better, the staff members were sweet, and even my workspace would be larger and more comfortable. Finally, I was starting to feel more hopeful about the future. Were things really about to go in my favor, even after getting fired?
Being fired from my job gave me an opportunity to pursue my true passions.
Navigating the real world after graduation is already a difficult experience for many college alumni, and being fired can make it even harder. However, reflecting on this experience, I was able to manifest some amazing career opportunities once I left my previous role. Looking back, it feels like everything worked out for a reason — and if you’re in a similar boat right now, it will for you, too.
Since being let go and starting my new job — which I’m excited to say I’m enjoying — I’ve also had more time and energy to devote to my passion for musical theater. Although I’ve attempted auditions in the past (including while working at my old job), I would often wait for ages to hear back from casting agents. Ironically, the day after I was fired, I received a phone call from an acting agency telling me that I booked one of the gigs I auditioned for! I was excited to have received such amazing news, especially after being fired so suddenly the day before.
With musical theater being one of my biggest passions, I’ve been able to audition for shows left and right. So far, I’ve booked a total of two gigs and am excited to keep an eye out for more opportunities. Remember: If you’re going through a tough time right now, remember that your next best opportunity might be right around the corner. Be patient with yourself and keep taking steps toward your goals.
In the span of a week, I lost my first job, booked two acting gigs, and started a new and better role somewhere else. Although getting laid off can feel horrible at the moment, your hard work and perseverance will be worth it in the end. Good luck, and remember, you’ve got this! When something doesn’t go the way you planned, it can be a sign that something better is coming.