What do you do when you’re seeking a promotion at work and you’re in a comfortable position while others are struggling? Do you leave things be (stay quiet and don’t rock the boat), or do you speak up and ask for what you’re worth?
I’m blessed to say that I’ve been employed at the same firm full-time for over a decade, fresh out of college (I was hired less than two months after graduation). I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs in that time.
I started as a junior technical writer in a Maryland office just outside of DC at age 22. I had a Bachelor’s degree in technical communication but no telecommunications knowledge. In just one year, my mentor and manager saw to it that I was promoted to Information Developer (a mid-level technical writer).
During the time I worked in MD, the technical publications team grew from a staff of four (I was number 4, but the others were temps) to 15. The company grew too fast, and layoffs ensued. I lost count of how many layoffs I have escaped since 2000 (including some last month—it’s amazing how the work keeps piling up while the funding dies off). In the meantime, continued to perform and train new hires. My manager encouraged me to take advantage of the company’s tuition assistance program, so I earned my Master’s in two years while she worked on her Bachelor’s. It was also during this same employment streak that I bought my first house, got married, gave birth to my daughter, and got divorced. Basically, I grew up while working here.
When I returned from maternity leave in September 2003, my manager had changed. Manager #1 still worked in an office a hundred feet away from mine, but I no longer reported to her. Manager #2 was in NJ, and flew down to meet us, but I only saw him once. This began my experience of working for people I almost never saw in person.
In June 2004, I separated from my husband and moved to Virginia with my daughter. I worked from a tiny office with two desks, where technicians and installers would come and go. The manager of that office arranged to allow me a key to the office, and the vacant desk. I had my equipment shipped from Maryland and pretty much worked in isolation. I endured a big transition—not only the new state of Virginia, but missing my friends and co-workers in Maryland, coping with a marital separation, and becoming a single mom
In September 2004, I received a letter from Corporate and Human Resources, stating that the office in Maryland would be closing, and my job would end. I was being laid off—I wasn’t able to dodge the bullet by moving to Virginia (or so I thought). I started planning to move and look for work. I went to Maryland in November 2005 to train the writer from India who was taking over my work. There was a very different air in the building at that time, as everyone else was training their successors as well.
Looking for work did not take long. In January 2005, just a couple of weeks before my lay-off date, I was hired at a temporary agency in Virginia Beach. They placed me at a well-known managed healthcare company for a 3-month assignment. Two weeks after I started the job (and still employed at the other company with very little work to do), my manager held a conference call with myself and the other remaining writers in Maryland. His news was that we would be retained after all! We all had the option of working from home now that the office was closed. Since I wasn’t losing my job, I put in my two-week notice with my temporary agency and the healthcare company—two weeks after I started.