What to do if ... you lose your job

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The Independent Online

Like many people in the legal, City and financial industries, Lauren Kaye, 33, was made redundant last year. In her case, the news came in August and she has spent the time since working in a very different environment

"I had a feeling I would get made redundant, but I didn't know for sure. I was working as a media lawyer in London and the company had just been taken over. I'd been working there for three years and I loved my job. It was August and I'd just been off sick with swine flu which had caused my Crohn's disease to flare up. so I'd been off for about two weeks in hospital. Then, on my first day back, I found out I didn't have a job any more.

"It was a total shock, but then within a week I'd booked a flight to Central America. That's what credit cards are for. I thought to myself: I'm 33, I don't have any ties and I don't have to find a new job; I can use this as an opportunity to do something totally different.

"Anyone with a job like I had – in the City or for a law firm – should have a plan B that they'd like to do if they get made redundant. I did, so when it happened I knew it was time to put it into action. I had been skiing last March for the first time and I really enjoyed it but had thought to myself that I would never be able to get that good if I only did it once a year. So it seemed like the perfect opportunity to spend a chunk of time in the mountains. The job I ended up getting was to work the forthcoming ski season with Crystal – the same company I'd been on holiday with.

"It was really sunny during the week while I was organising everything, so I spent the days sunbathing in Regent's Park. I stayed in London for the whole of September, going away on breaks with friends. I'd already planned a week in St Tropez and to go to Bestival. My feet did not touch the ground.

"Within a week of not working I couldn't imagine how people had time for a full-time job. Every day there was someone to meet for lunch or something to do; it was the best few months. I did a two-week French course and then I went to Central America for five weeks. I flew to Nicaragua and travelled around Costa Rica and Panama – it was something I'd always wanted to do.

"When I got back I had a week in London putting away my summer wardrobe and getting out my winter stuff. Then it was time to head to the mountains. I arrived in Les Arcs in early December to begin working as a rep and it's fantastic. It's like nothing I've ever done before. I'm not normally someone who likes the cold or early mornings but when I get up at 6am and see the view of the sun coming up over Mont Blanc, it seems worth it.

"Six months ago I was working at a computer all day, every day. The stuff that's happened has given me an opportunity and who knows what I'll be doing this time next year; I've got no idea. Everyone back home thinks I will take another law job, but to be honest I don't really know, because once you're off the hamster wheel, you don't want to get back on. I did enjoy my life but it was very conventional, whereas now I realise what else is out there. You get ground down by living in London with the stress of daily life, but then all of a sudden you remember how to smile every day. The people I worked with are some of my best friends and they say they're very jealous when I email them now – it's good to keep in touch with old colleagues. I feel like my health has improved massively even though I'm working hard, because I'm not stressed.

"If one of my friends got made redundant tomorrow, the first thing I'd say is don't panic. The worst thing to do is to jump straight back into getting another job – it's better to see it as an opportunity to do something you've never done before. It's also important not to see it as a rejection of you personally, because it's not. Trying not to get cross with the people who've put you in that position is also crucial, partly because there's no point, but also because they've actually given you a chance. I know lots of people are married with kids and wouldn't be able to do this, but if you're given the opportunity to try something different, you should just take it."

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