63 days

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63 days.

That's the number of days between the time my 90-day furlough started and the day I resigned from that company.

On April 8th, me and 48 team members were notified we'd be furloughed. I saw it coming. I think many of us did. There had been talk of reduced hours, voluntary furloughs, as well as reduced pay. They even asked us what we'd prefer in the weeks and days leading up to "the day". Unfortunately, our choices didn't matter. In a series of meetings with at least two "survivors", we were given the news - 90-day furlough with plans on bringing everyone back. The 48 of us were the "lucky" ones - they also laid off another 19 that day.

On April 8th after finding out I was going to be furloughed, I posted a short message on Twitter.

And I was furloughed for 90 days due to the impact of COVID-19 (starting on Monday). Good times.

On April 9th, I received a DM on twitter from a friend I have a lot of respect for that had a link to a job and a short message saying, "I think you should apply". After some back-and-forth, I did.

I also posted this on twitter

For everyone furloughed or laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic (or really anytime) - remember, you own your career, not the employer that put you on the bench. There are still plenty of companies out there that value what we all have to offer. #hangTough

We all had to finish out that week of work, which was incredibly awkward. The walking dead were numb. The survivors were freaked out. I did what I could to wrap up my tasks. I attended standups. I tried to keep myself busy. By Friday, there was nothing else to do, so I pretty much took that day off. Oh, I also shared lots of Hunger Games memes with my manager. My last message in our team Slack was this

In Avengers: Infinity War, who are the heroes that disappeared ...

My furlough officially started on April 13th.

I spoke to the friend that sent me the job offer late afternoon on the 13th. We talked more about the company and the role I'd be filling. He filled me in on the timeline and said a recruiter would be getting with me.

For most of that week, I watched Pluralsight videos, played video games, and hung out with my family. Oh, did I mention that my wife had also been furloughed from her job back in March? Good times.

On Friday, April 16 - day 4 of my furlough, another friend contacted me via FB messenger and asked if I was interested in a short-term project. Why not! It'd give me something to do and keep some money flowing! After a short conversation with the client that afternoon, they asked me to start on the project the following Monday!

The project was interesting and kept me busy for most of 6 weeks. It felt good to be doing something and not just waiting. It felt good to have some purpose and to feel the accomplishment of submitting PRs and watching new features come to life. The money didn't hurt either.

I was still waiting to hear from the recruiter, and eventually did after several days. It turns out he had been sick and was a bit behind. After talking to him about the organization, the role, salary requirements, etc. I was finally in the interview pipeline.

On May 18, day 35 of my furlough, I had a technical interview over the phone. I recall having a good time and clicking well with the interviewers. I know for sure I struggled on at least one of the questions, but overall, I had a good feeling.

On May 27, day 44 of my furlough, I had the second interview - a panel interview with four people. This one was on video. All the questions were behavioral. In the days between the interviews, I had done a little preparation - thinking of stories and events that I could talk about when they asked me the hard questions. In the end, it wasn't as bad as I thought.

On May 28, day 45 of my furlough, I was contacted by my friend and told to expect an offer.

On June 3, day 51 of my furlough, I was offered the job.

On June 4, day 52 of my furlough, I accepted the job offer.

The recruiter called and said the background check would take a few days. We set my start date for June 22, 2020.

On June 11, day 59 of my furlough, the background check cleared.

On June 15, day 63 of my furlough, I officially let the employer that furloughed me know that I was resigning.

On June 17,  I found out that my furloughed comrades are getting bad news - MOST will not be coming back.

While I'm really disappointed with my former employer, I am looking forward to the new job. I'm excited to be on a team again and feeling like I have some purpose. I'm excited to jump into a new domain and learn. I'm excited to work with someone I have a great deal of respect for. I'm excited to meet new people. I'm excited to see steady paychecks hit my bank account again. I'm excited to have new places to go when the country opens back up. 

Having a strong network got me through what could have been a horrible couple of months. Having a strong network brought me work when I didn't expect it. I am grateful for my network of friends, and for them reaching out. They could have done what most did and simply said, "Let me know if I can help" or "Sorry to hear that". I don't fault those people for those replies; I'm just saying it was nice to have people reach out with solid leads. The fact that I never actually said I was looking for work makes this all the more fascinating.

Three things I want people to take away from this:

  1. You own your career, not your employer. You cannot expect them to act in your best interest, especially in times of crisis. They need to protect the company, and sometimes they do that at the expense of the people that made the company what it is.
  2. Having a network of friends, colleagues, former co-workers makes a huge difference. Build that network. Maintain that network. It's important!
  3. When you interview in the future, ask prospective employers how they handled the COVID-19 pandemic. It's important.