For nearly seven years, I have worked for SecureWorld, a cybersecurity event company. Last week, just like 40+ million of my fellow Americans, I filed for unemployment. Many industries have been hit hard by the pandemic, with the event industry certainly high on the list.
At the beginning of March, I found myself traveling to Charlotte for work, a little nervous about the Coronavirus, but it was the very beginning…
The day before the conference, it was my job to speak with representatives in every booth to ensure they were all set to utilize our conference app, and answer any questions. This particular conference had 35-40 booths – that is a lot of contact – and we didn’t know the 6 ft. rule yet.
It was an awkward introduction every time; do we shake hands, do we wave, do we say anything about the awkwardness…? It was the beginning of uncharted territory, and learning a new way to communicate. One of the booths had a “no handshake” sign – a little foreshadowing of the months ahead.
For the next two days, I heard side conversations about what it would be like to stop travelling for work. I didn’t hear anyone mention, “What would it be like if we lose our jobs?” None of us knew how quickly things would shift over the next few weeks.
I was back home in Portland for only one week when our office decided to work remotely. Two days later, the shelter in place order was issued.
I was proud of the way we pivoted as an organization quickly. We moved to an all digital presence, hired a PR firm to communicate effectively with our different stakeholders, and did our best to hang on for the next few months.
We rescheduled our in-person conferences for later in the year with hopes that the wave would pass, and conferences in late summer and early fall could still be held.
However, as the weeks and months unfolded, it became clear that the conference world just wouldn’t be possible in 2020, and quite likely 2021, and who knows for how long into the future. There was nothing I did wrong, quite simply, my role with SecureWorld no longer exists.
These past few weeks have been filled with every emotion concerning my employment. A part of me is excited to find a new opportunity in a field that aligns more with my interests. Truth be told, when I took the SecureWorld job I envisioned myself with the company for a year or two; but life happens.
It’s no secret I’m sentimental. Anytime my life changes, I feel sadness as I experience the chapter closing. SecureWorld was my very first “grown-up” job out of college. I was so excited to get paid vacations, PTO, and not wait tables on the weekends and holidays.
This company saw me through buying my very first home. My daughter’s middle school and high school graduations, and her acceptance into the University of Oregon.
This company saw me through a pregnancy, and the first years of my son’s life from infant, to toddler, and now preschooler.
This company saw me through loss; loss of loved pets, dear friends, and family. For some people on my team, we were a witness to each other’s lives for nearly seven years. That’s a lot of life stages and transitions.
I have so many happy memories of traveling for work conferences, holiday parties, and Friday bar cart trivia. Some of my colleagues watched me jump out of a tree into a lake, learn all important skills like curling, lawn bowling, glass blowing, archery, and fly fishing at company outings. Everyone endured my recycling and composting presentations, and single use plastics shaming.
I grew so much with this company; learning new technologies, skills, and ways to communicate. I learned to advocate for myself and ask for what I wanted and deserved. I learned to work with a wide array of personalities, how to find work/life balance in the past four years working mostly remotely, and how to juggle managing several different projects and tasks every day while marketing to 17 regional conferences across North America.
To my colleagues: I will miss all the silly banter and serious life conversations. Thank you for all the encouraging words, teaching me new skills and technologies, and sharing nearly seven years (some of you) with me.
For those of you staying with the company, I wish you success. I never had a true passion for “cybersecurity,” but I know we had a good thing going, and it felt great to be a part of something that our audience absolutely loved.
For my fellow colleagues moving on like me, I wish you the very best. Good luck finding something you LOVE! Whether it’s a new job, going back to school, or adventuring…follow your heart.
I believe 2020 is asking us to contemplate what truly matters, grow and stretch; which is often uncomfortable, but this is the space where magic happens. I’m wiping the sentimental tears away; ready and excited for the next chapter!