I Was Just Laid Off From My Dream Job... After 3 Weeks

Photo by Glyn Lowe

UPDATE - I have since found a new job working for The Ready, a new organizational design consulting firm. 

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When I started graduate school in 2011 I was intending to build my own boutique coaching and consulting firm. I wanted to take positive psychology and figure out real ways to bring this stuff to people and organizations who could benefit from it. Looking around at existing consulting companies I didn’t see anybody doing anything remotely close to what seemed interesting and worthwhile to me. I wanted to get into the nitty gritty of how groups and individuals actually do their work. I'm fascinated by what I call the "moment-to-moment reality of work" and I knew there had to be ways I could use this fascination to bring about real change. I figured the only way I was going to get what I wanted to do was to create it myself.

That was until I was introduced to Undercurrent.

The first time I sat down and read their website I realized that this was a group of people doing the exact work I wanted to be doing on a scale I’d never be able to accomplish on my own. A huge part of Undercurrent’s business was literally called “Ways of Working.” Anybody who knows me in real life should realize why this company and what it does is so exciting to me. Literally the same day I read the website for the first time I emailed them inquiring about how I could possibly join the team. I had finally found my people. Now, I just needed to convince them they needed someone with my background and experience on the team.

That process took a long time and I’ll spare you the boring details, but in early July I moved across the country (Los Angeles to New York) and started working for Undercurrent.

Unfortunately, Undercurrent was acquired by a larger company, Quirky, in April. Quirky is not a consulting company and apparently didn’t have much of a plan for how acquiring Undercurrent would be beneficial to both sides. Instead, Quirky has slowly, and then very rapidly, been circling the drain as they failed to secure additional fundraising. I knew about Undercurrent’s situation when I decided to move across the country to join them. I knew Quirky’s fundraising situation was not good. I knew that morale was low at Undercurrent. I knew that Undercurrent had faced a ton of turnover recently. I decided to take the plunge anyway. And today that plunge ended with the end of Undercurrent.

Ultimately, it was surprisingly simple decision to pack up my life and make the trek across the country to join this company. My dream job was literally dangled in front of me. How could I have not taken it, even given the uncertainty of the situation? If there's even a 5% chance that Undercurrent would make it through this incredibly shitty acquisition I had to take it. I wanted to join this company and meet all these people, even if just for a very short time. It was easy for me to take the plunge, take the risk, and hope for the best. Sure, I think I was optimistic that there was no way this highly profitable, highly desired, extremely capably staffed organization could be destroyed by external forces. I was naive. I thought Undercurrent would somehow, miraculously, pull through this incredibly unfortunate situation and emerge victorious, if not battered, on the other side. 

It looks like I was wrong.

Four weeks after moving to New York, three weeks after starting my dream job, I'm now unemployed, living in New York with a brand new apartment lease, sitting on some debt from moving across the country, and dealing with a hell of a lot of uncertainty about what I’m going to do next.

I know some of my (now former) colleagues probably think I’m insane for voluntarily joining this shipwreck in its late stages. I came into this with clear eyes about what might happen and even though it’s incredibly frustrating to have a taste of my dream job before having it ripped away, I’m glad I got to experience it at all. 

Thank you to Undercurrent for the opportunity — I wish it could have been during better times.  I’m going to miss everyone at the company I only just met. I hope our paths cross again in some capacity and I’m excited to see what everyone goes onto next.

P.S. If you want to work with someone obsessed about making business, work, and life better shoot me an email.