Some 5 months ago, I published an article in which I mused over a major change that had taken place in my life. Some 5 days ago, another major change occurred in my life. The first change was an upturn in my life and career. The more recent one, on the other hand, is the point where my career seems to have taken something of a nosedive.
Five months ago I got my best job yet. Five days ago I lost it. I will tell you how I lost my job, why I lost it and how all of that made me feel; but first, permit me to divert for a minute to say a word or two about words.
I am a strong believer in the power of words. At the start of this month, I came across a hashtag I thought sounded really cool, probably because of the rhyme. This is it: #SeptemberToRemember. Being the logophile that I am, I immediately personalized the hashtag and left it floating on my mind, promising myself that I would make this September one that I shall ever look back on and smile.
September is not yet over and I know already that it is a month I shall ever look back on; although, whether with a smile or in tears, only time will tell.
I had been optimistic when I adopted the hashtag. The promise of a September to remember would infuse some enthusiasm and zeal into my actions and decisions. September has drawn close to the end and the prophetic words of the hashtag have come true. It truly is a month to remember.
By the way, I don't believe the hashtag has anything to do with me losing my job though. But it seemed too peculiar a coincidence and I thought it worth the mention.
Enough about words and prophecies and hashtags. Back to the main subject of this article: How I lost my job, why I lost it, and how all of that made me feel?
I was working at Andela. Andela is a company that cultivates a talent pool of highly skilled developers in several African countries and gets them to work remotely with global technology companies. Andela has offices in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Egypt. I worked in Nigeria.
On the day I was to learn of my layoff, I got up that morning and prepared for work much as I did on any ordinary workday. Three hours later is when I learned that this particular day was not so ordinary after all.
The news was broken to us by our CEO, Jeremy Johnson, over a zoom meeting. It took a while for it to sink in. Not long after the meeting on that very day, I received an email informing me that I am one of the 400 employees who had been laid off.
So there you have it; that is how I lost my job.
Why I lost it? A statement made by Jeremy summarizes the reason pretty well: "We've hired more junior developers than we are able to place in remote roles," he said. I was hired as a junior developer at Andela, so you see where the wave first took me.
To be fair to myself, let me also add that I don't consider myself exactly a junior developer. I am something along the lines of intermediate. Anyways, I didn't start this article with the intent to rant about my experience. Moving on.
How did all of this make me feel? Well, like most things that take you unawares, my first reaction is one of incredulity, followed by a naive hope that I may yet survive the coming storm somehow; that just maybe, at the very last moment, by some stroke of good fortune, I will be spared.
After realizing the futility of my hopes, the next thing I felt was a curiosity for what was to become of my structured life. If I take away the waking up at 6 am; the morning showers; the stopping at the bus stop to board a bus and go to work; the breakfast and lunch with friends and colleagues… what would remain? What job would I take up next? Would I enjoy it?
I felt sad even for people I don't know; for in that pool of 400 developers, I'm pretty sure this must have been a very hard blow for a good number of people. We had not seen this coming. We had not braced for it.
I'm sure we would all be fine though. We've gathered a lot of valuable experience in this short time of working at Andela. In fact, when local companies heard of the layoff, they were hunting most of us down with opportunities, because they trust the product of Andela. Andela has that reputation.
I am confident that for most of us who were laid off, looking back someday in the not so distant future, we will regard this layoff as the best thing to have ever happened to our careers. In fact, that is how I see it already.
I am excited about the future, especially now that it is not so predictable. I hope this all works out for the best both for Andela and for the 400 of us.
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