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My First Job Ended in Unemployment

During good economic times, finding a new position after losing your job typically takes 2-3 months. I remember hearing this from my favorite career counselor—whom I still seek advice from even five years out of college—and thinking to myself, “two to three months? That’s impossible!” But she was right. When I was unemployed in 2006, it took three months to find new employment.

My Unemployment Story

I never thought that I would find myself laid off, especially at my first job out of college. Five years ago I began work as an International Sales and Marketing Specialist for a start-up company. The offer came in during the last weeks of my undergraduate education, and was just too tempting to turn down: a $40,000 base salary and a title for a soon-to-be college grad that, while I knew I would have to grow into, gave me the sort of instantaneous definition I desperately needed in a rapidly transitioning time.

Hired on a one-year grant to promote international sales of agricultural-based food products, my task became painfully clear in the first weeks of work: to convince companies in other countries to sell our products with no history of success, no travel budget, and no clue as to how to begin.

After almost a year’s worth of hard work, one morning my international title came out of hibernation and I received my first order from a large food distributor in Taiwan. I presented the deal to our board, detailing how I was going to execute all of the logistics. To make this happen, I needed to be a salesman, a freight forwarder, a project manager, and a quality control expert rolled into one.

The end result? The order was a disaster nearly every step of the way with the sort of kinks that happen for every start-up company’s first export: our shipment was late leaving the factory, resulting in extra costs at the dock. Our plant manager gave me the P.O. address of the factory instead of the street address, which resulted in an overhaul of all documentation. The client had not understood that our manufacturing facility was in a different state from our office location, and almost canceled the order entirely.

And yet the order shipped, so I thought everything was okay. Unfortunately, what I did not focus my attention on was my time within the one year grant whittling away. One $27,000 shipment, even with the promise of future business, was not enough to justify an international department. Two weeks later is when I found myself sitting across from my boss, being asked to pack up my things and leave.

Have you found yourself among the growing number of unemployed in the U.S.? If so, What to Expect When You File for Unemployment [1] will help you apply for benefits and pay your bills while you and our economy work on redefining yourselves.

Do you have an unemployment story? If so, we’d love to hear about it.

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