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I got laid off because of COVID-19. Here’s how I turned job loss into a career opportunity

Thinking back to the start of 2020, it held so much promise. Not just a new year, but a whole new decade. A chance to reflect on where I’d come in my life thus far, and what new accomplishments I wanted to set out to achieve. And I had big plans.

I had just signed on for a new gig as the chief marketing officer at a high-growth startup whose founders, stage, and credibility were everything I’d been looking for. I’ve worked in marketing for over 15 years, but this was to be my first turn as CMO, and it held special importance for me. Becoming CMO of a company I was proud to work for was a goal I had set for myself back in college. There I was, finally Jackie in the C-suite; everything I’d worked so hard for. When suddenly, I was Jackie without a job.

My new employer had to lay off roughly half its workforce, including the entire marketing department, because of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. In all honesty, I was gobsmacked. I recognized that the pandemic would have major implications. But until it happens to you, those hypothetical impacts almost feel surreal. Now we were in the middle of a global pandemic with layoffs happening everywhere, and I found myself agonizing. Is anyone out there hiring? How long will I be unemployed? How long can I afford my rent? Will I have to move back in with my parents at the embarrassing age of 36? Am I even allowed to feel grief about this when so many others are physically contracting and dying from this virus?

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