Thanksgiving is long over, Christmas is at our doorstep, and the new year is just around the corner.
2009 has been an interesting year I must say; professionally and socially speaking. It reminds me of around 6 or 7 years ago when I was working for a medium sized firm with 60+ employees that had massive lay-offs, reducing the firm down to half! These lay-offs took place right before Thanksgiving and right before Christmas! It was devastating to see colleagues be let go and during a time when people are supposed to be festive. Those who still had a place at the office began to lose morale. I was one of the lucky ones who still had a job. I was thankful but knew I had to get out before I would be next on the chopping block. Plus, I had worked there for 3 years without a raise. Back then, employment was still good, depending on the sector and size of the firm you were looking into. I was fortunate enough to find a new position at a small firm with about 10 people, and a very minor pay raise. I didn’t care, I wanted out. I prospered professionally at the small firm but felt I was never properly compensated for my hard work. In 2008, I decided it was time to move on after I was told the company had financial limitations, and the projects were becoming stale, and I was not growing professionally.
Again, I was fortunate enough to land another position that met my salary requirements and projects that would challenge me with greater responsibilities. My professional expectations of the new position were not met, and by the time I realized this, it was too late; firms were not hiring.
The beginning of 2009 was scary as news of massive lay-offs in the architectural field spread. And then in mid-2009, the current firm had downsized leaving just me and the boss. I was sad to see my colleagues go but was more concerned about adjusting myself with the projects I had inherited. Ever since I arrived at the current firm, I’ve been cleaning up the messes that was started or left behind by others that were never properly addressed.
I tried to look at the upside of this kind of responsibilty, and like to compare it to George Clooney’s character in the movie, Michael Clayton but without the potentially deadly conspiracy factor. He’s a cleaner. He cleans up the messes other people leaves behind and dispenses damage control. It’s an interesting role I have found myself in. I have acquired a great skill of problem solving under pressure especially as it relates to projects whose history are beyond my personal knowledge. The experience has also been a great comfort to me in that the other project team members acknowledge and appreciate the difference the project has progressed as a result of my participation. Professional, reliable, and efficient is how I conduct myself.
I recently met with a former colleague for lunch, and she explained to me that the company I used to work at was still managing to stay afloat and ride through the lull in construction. The staff salary was cut but partially subsidized by the government through partial unemployment but they worked less hours in order to qualify for federal aid. On top of that, they don’t have paid time-off anymore. They do have extended time-off during the Christmas and new year’s holidays but that’s unpaid time-off. Hearing this makes me very thankful I left when I did, and despite some of the disapppontments I have come to realize about the current position as a “cleaner”, I am employed, I am paid very well, I have paid time-off, and full medical coverage. And this year, I got a bonus. It wasn’t alot but the fact that I got one means more to me than not getting anything at all.
And with that, I wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year in 2010!