For the first time in my whole professional life, I am collecting unemployment benefits. This is a first. I had lost my job back in winter 2000 and was given a severance package but moved from Boston to NY so did not even attempt to file a claim, though I guess I could have. I had a new job by January 2001, anyway, so I did not truly need the extra help unemployment could have given me.
This time around, is different. I had a full time job -my first one in a few years and then I no longer had a full time job anymore. Also, during this time, I was diagnosed with and treated for cancer - find out more about that plot twist here
When I went to the required meeting for unemployment, I was surprised at how I was treated - like a bum. I guess this is "normal" for city agencies that think of you as just a number but these were local employees to my town and they looked at me like I was dirt on their shoes. I do not at all agree with it - everyone finds themselves in tough times and, in my opinion, should always be treated with the same respect that is given, you know? So if I walk by and say, "hello" and "thank you" there should at least be a civil response given back. That is obviously neither here nor there - everyone probably has similar stories about being on the "dole" or needing help to get to their next step. There was a training on how to write a resume and interview, ironic, given I had written books about that...
I am in the shoes of countless of my clients have been before me but this time, a bit different. I had spoken about it at length regarding being a mom or having an illness here transitioning-back-to-the-workforce.html and fI can say I really never thought any of those things would apply to me.
How naive I was. After working part time and running my own semi-successful business for a few years, I was back in the game of a steady paycheck and it was good. It was also good to have a goal, to have something that was just mine. When you run a business, you belong to everyone. You want to find clients and make deals and it is downright exhausting.
I still think one day I will go back to being entrepreneurial again. But not now. For now, I am focused on finding my own next step and thinking about ways I can help others who have been in my shoes - who have had to take a leave or lost their jobs due to cancer and its effects. When your body fails you, it is not your fault. I can help others figure out how to manage their next step, after cancer. But for free.
Lisa Vento Nielsen