Every once in a while I look for another job, just to see what is out on the market. Its nice to know what is out there and what other people in my position are being paid. I wasn’t really searching for a new job as I was happy where I was, I was just….curious. I never really found anything too interesting and I didn’t care. Well, I didn’t care until about three months ago.
I did the numbers and I just wasn’t going to make it on what I was getting paid at my job. I liked the people and had become comfortable where I was, complacent, but if I didn’t either get a raise or find a new job I was going to have to quit and move back home because after all my bills were paid I had only $50-$200 for gas, food, and whatever else for the month. Not that pay period, not that week, the whole month. Even sadder still, that amount includes whatever money my mother gave me to help me out every month. Daycare and Rachel’s insurance alone added over $1000 to my expenses every month and I was sinking.
So my first step was to see if I could get a raise at work. I had been the Interventional coder for over a year and a half and had never gotten a pay raise for my change in work, so I pulled my supervisor into the huddle room and asked her if there were any extra job duties I could perform or pick up in order to justify asking for a raise. She said the company hadn’t been giving raises for a while now and it didn’t look like that was going to change, and no she had no extra job duties I could take on to even try to get a raise. Then she suggested I get a roommate.
Was she serious?
Yes, she was, and when I told her I lived in a one bedroom apartment she suggested I rent a room from a friend. I told her no one I knew needed a roommate and, even if I did, I had a kid. Can you imagine living in a single room with a toddler in someone’s house that isn’t yours? Its not like its a studio apartment that is all yours, its a room in a home. Not only would Rachel’s stuff not fit with mine, she is a walking terror to anything breakable that anyone might value.
Rent a room when I have a toddler. HA! Next!
So I started looking for a new job, and for the first three weeks of August I put in an application a day, at least! I applied for anything and everything that I qualified for, be it for a coding position or something else, because at this point it wasn’t about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, it was about what I HAD to do in order to support my baby.
My first job interview didn’t come until the middle of September for a company that was going to be opening an office in Bakersfield. Rachel was with her Daddy that night so I drove up Tuesday night and spent the night at my mom’s. The interview went well and they gave me a test to take home and I had a week to turn it in. I wasn’t really too concerned about this job interview because I was applying for a job in Bakersfield. Bakersfield jobs don’t pay real well; its a Wal-Mart town.
By Wal-Mart, I mean in a town of 350,000 (almost) we have 4 Wal-Marts, two of them Super Centers. When Wal-Mart is one of the big employers in the town, well, they don’t pay much. So we have a lot of people living in a town where the average wage isn’t all that high.
I digress; the Bakersfield job was practice for the Thursday interview at UCI. The position was for a third tier job as an Interventional Radiology Coder, and I had found another UCI job for second tier that started at a little over $29. If second tier job started at $29, what would the third tier job start at? THIS was the interview I wanted to nail. Funny thing is, I didn’t even find this particular job. A fellow coder found the job online and sent me the information so I could apply! No, she didn’t have the qualifications, and yes I applied to both jobs.
The interview went great, both of them as my first interview was with a panel and the second was with the Director. In the first interview I found out that the benefits would cover both me and Rachel. That alone would save me $486 per month! I did find out during the second interview that since coders were union I would have to start out at tier 1 pay, but I didn’t care because even if I worked for $1 more an hour I wouldn’t have to pay Rachel’s insurance, so it would be like getting over $3 per hour raise!
Monday, October 1st, only days after my second interview, an email went out at work towards the end of the day that made me gasp out loud. My company had lost its biggest client. 70% of the work would be gone in three months. I was still getting phone calls for interviews, so I felt pretty confident that I would be ok. It was everyone else I was worried about.
That Thursday UCI offered me the job. I was relieved, excited, sad, a whole slew of emotions filled me. The interviews at UCI had made me very excited. I really liked the people I interviewed with and I was so very happy that I got the job, not because of the situation at work, but because this would help me support my daughter. I instantly started having visions of a two bedroom apartment in my future, but I have bills I need to pay off first and a savings to re-establish. I was also sad because I have made many friends at work and I really enjoy seeing them everyday.
I told the department the morning after I accepted the job and they were very happy for me. I emailed my notice in to Human Resources and then went into the Billing Manager’s office to tell her personally. She is, after all, the woman who hired me. I gave her the news and she told me how much she has appreciated me as an employee and suggested that I get hired on per diem until January. I agreed. I drained my savings account and this would help me build it back up.
This past Tuesday, work had a meeting to let the employees know how losing our client will effect the company. I wasn’t able to attend because it involve me since the next day was my last day. 😦 Cyndi took notes though, and I read them as soon as they got out of the meeting. There will be two rounds of lay-offs: one before December 1st and another at the end of January. Hopefully there will not be a third, but if there is it will be around May/June time frame I think. 15-20% of the layoffs will happen by December 1st. They are looking for more clients, so I hope they pick up enough business so as few people as possible get laid off.
So now its today, my last day at work. I’ve pretty much packed up my desk except for a few last items, and I’ve copied all my research and whatever else I may need onto a flash drive to take with me to my new job. One last day to clear out some things I haven’t had time to finish.
I get up, put on what I think is my nicest outfit, put on some makeup, and head off to work. I get there before everyone except my supervisor and I see that my desk has been decorated. Balloons and confetti everywhere! I make my coffee and as my coworkers start coming in everyone gives me hugs and talks excitedly about how luck I am to starting at UCI on Monday. I agree with them. I am a very lucky girl.
People start bringing me presents. I got a beautiful shirt from Ann Taylor with a necklace to go with it from Jill and Eloisa, flowers and a plant that even I can’t kill from Cyndi, bath and body works Cinnamon Pumpkin shower gel and lotion from Ginger, cookies from Cheryl, and a lot of hugs from everyone else.
I didn’t cry. I swear. Just in case I was going to though, I did wear waterproof mascara. My eyes did water throughout the day, but I didn’t cry. The excitement of going to my new job, and the fact that I would only be down the street and around the corner, helped keep me from getting too sad. I know I will still see everyone.
They had a special lunch for me and they all pitched in and bought me and Joe lunch from Crazy Grill which has really good sushi. In fact, they have really good mexican food, hamburgers, sandwiches, everything! Joe brought Rachel and I took her around the office so people could see her, and I promised everyone I would still bring her by once in a while.
At 3pm I had my exit interview, and I was basically told that the combination of the company’s current situation and the fact that I had sent out some personal emails (which I had been written up for in August, abusing email privileges by sending out non-work related emails), the per diem position was no longer available to me. I felt insulted. Here I was, my last day of work, at my exit interview and I was basically, kinda, fired. For emails. Whatever, I don’t need it anyway. I had been stressing out over when I would have time to help them and now I don’t have to worry about it anymore. Still, I was really annoyed. I didn’t show it though. I said that was fine and smiled, shook her hand and left. I went back to my desk, gathered everything up, and by that time it was 3:30 and everyone was clocking out so I waited with them at the elevator.
That’s when it happened. I was at the elevator and a couple coders came out and said that Jody had been in the huddle room with our lead HR person for half an hour. Jody was getting laid off as I was in my exit interview. This was unexpected, and no one thought anyone was going to get laid off so soon. Didn’t they say there was just going to be one round of lay-offs at the end of November? Apparently not. Things just got real for the coding department.
Jill came out crying, upset over Jody getting laid off, and gave me one of the nicest compliments I have ever received. She thanked me for everything I had taught her, and for doing it in a way that didn’t make her feel stupid. She said that it was a gift, being able to do that. I assured her she wasn’t stupid, but she gave me a hug and she was crying. I dropped off my key card to HR on my way out and Cyndi helped me carry stuff to my car. We talked a bit about Jody, then she gave me a hug and walked away. I wasn’t put off by her nonchalant goodbye, as we hang out outside of work and that will continue. Still, I got in my car, and drove away from the tall, white building at the block for the last time.