Dan DiGangi - Software Engineering Manager, Tech Instructor/Mentor
Published on

Getting Laid Off From My Engineering Job Hurt More Than Expected


Here we go. My first shot at video content.

I was laid off recently from my engineering management position. It has had a profound impact on my life and mental health. Since video content has been on my mind over written lately I decided (with a healthy dose of push from Taylor & Jason) to hit on something that's been upfront in my life.

The cuts are a bit rough but the only way to get out of my comfort zone was to just do it and publish.

Video Transcript

Read in Text File

00:00:03 - 00:00:15:21

All right. Hey, everybody. I am back, and I think I fixed my mike this time. I just got over a cold the past week, knocked me out, wasn't able to get my first video up, but I'm going to give it a shot. So if you don't know me, my name is Danny DiGangi. I'm an engineering manager from Chicago.

00:15:23 - 00:00:33:18

And shameless plug. I got laid off a few months ago, so I am actively looking for a new role in a great company both ways. I've worked in the past to companies like Tacky Sign Apartments, dot com active campaign. A lot of JavaScript love. It's actually tattooed on my leg and I going to show it that be weird. Shows picture of tattoo.

00:33:21 - 00:00:55:29

But I am looking for the right role, so hopefully put myself out there. Like this will help with that. But my actual goal is making this is to, you know, hopefully help even one person. And today I wanted to talk about not the job market but layoffs and, you know, I was laid off a few months back and I realized it hurt a lot more than I expected.

00:56:01 - 00:01:13:08

You know, in the beginning, there was two things that happened was, my God, how am I going to pay the bills? And then two was, my God, this is a vacation. This is kind of cool. But as it went farther along, it started to go downhill. And that was is I am notorious and I'm sure I'm not alone.

01:13:11 - 00:01:33:08

I associate my life heavily to my work identity and, you know, very passionate and ambitious. And I do love that side of my life. But I have for a long time I've made that my only identity. So when it's gone, the column, everything else kind of falls by the wayside. And you start to feel bad or worthless or like, my God, am I not as good as I thought?

01:33:11 - 00:01:51:27

And, you know, I don't think that's the case from the data that I have throughout my career and my experience. But I've become very, you know, hurt in a sense, because that part of my life is not there. And I didn't really come to realize this. And I don't think a lot of us do is that that separation is really crucial.

01:51:29 - 00:02:08:27

And you can't just have that one thing when it comes down to something else that I've been working on for a long time. Balance not very good at balancing sometimes and it's been hard to work on. But I figured, you know, one I just wanted to say for those that have been laid off or trying to get a job and fighting the market right now, I feel for you.

02:09:04 - 00:02:31:27

It's a tough time. So the question becomes is how do you dissociate yourself from your work identity within reason? I don't want to give it up completely. I don't think any of us do or a lot of us don't, hopefully. And so there's a few things I thought of. So first one was back in COVID during COVID. 2020, when I was a doctor, you sign, I had this really cool, nice apartment in the city, but very expensive.

02:31:27 - 00:02:51:17

And getting a two bedroom is very difficult. So I ended up with my office, like directly behind me, kind of like this. This is my living room. My office was back there. And what's interesting is, is that that's one very key example of not separating when you are in your living space and you're also in your workspace, your brain is driven to put those two things together.

02:51:17 - 00:03:07:17

So you never actually make that disconnect. And adjacent example the same if you don't if you know, if you hang out in your bedroom where you sleep, it can mess with your rhythm, how you wake up, how you go to sleep, how good your sleep is. Because again, your brain is starting to associate it with, this is a place that I live or hang out and chill.

03:07:17 - 00:03:28:13

Or maybe you're working in your bedroom. It doesn't mean you can't do it at all. But you have to remember that your brain will continue to drive and make those associations and connections so that you, you know, you never really detach yourself. So when you don't have it, those little dopamine hits you get from your work identity if you're not getting them in other ways, healthy, positive ways, you're going to be really never going to get away from it.

03:28:13 - 00:03:46:22

So a couple of ideas for you in that one. You know, these are a couple of kind of stereotypical but is, you know, going to that Starbucks going to a library, trying to separate out, you know, that part of, you know, where you live. So if you're fortunate enough to have a big enough place, definitely think very much so about where you work and how much time you spend and when you spend that time.

03:46:25 - 00:04:08:01

But also is, you know, one of my ideas. And I didn't do it that because I didn't realize this was going on was putting up a wall. I should have put up a wall between my office area like behind me and where my living space was. And I didn't do that. But that would help my brain break at least a little bit from, you know, like this is distinctly where I work, This is distinctly where I live my life.

04:08:03 - 00:04:26:16

Our next one is one that I'm really happy that it's come to me or happened in my life, which is So about nine months ago, I actually got a girlfriend and also since I lost my job, I had more time, which is getting to spend with my parents. They're getting older, their health starting to unfortunately go down. But I was spending more time with them.

04:26:16 - 00:04:43:18

I was spending time my girlfriend and her family. And you know, as much as I have a social life, like going to music fests and dancing and, you know, cool dinners and all that stuff, although the cost had to go down, you know, not having much. But those are things where I know you don't only have hopefully, you know, your friends.

04:43:18 - 00:05:04:10

And that said it's not, you know, only work people or people in the industry And that's another great example of this is that when you know your circle is not just work and you don't even have the opportunity to really talk about those things. And I mean, like it doesn't mean someone can ask you a question, but where the only conversation centers around that, that is another way that I have and I've improved breaking myself away from my work stuff.

05:04:16 - 00:05:23:25

And I've really enjoyed it, like spending time with family and friends. You know, it's not a it's a no brainer, you know, I think. And, you know, so if you don't, you know, have as much of that going on, is service something simple? You know, go out and do some extra murals or, you know, go to a meetup and I don't mean a JavaScript meetup or anything, but something where you're meeting people and doing an activity, or even if you're by yourself, go for a run, go to the gym.

05:23:25 - 00:05:42:02

But it's another example of how you continue to separate yourself. And it's tough to be honest, and it's hurt a lot, you know, going through this, but also trying to have those different things that bring me back and not completely rely on that work identity. Now, the last thing I want to hit on is, is how have I been able to keep some of that?

05:42:02 - 00:05:56:14

Because I don't want to give it up because, one, as soon as you step away, it's like a great example. If you're in leadership, right, you may not as actively be coding and you start to build some rust. And I'll be honest, that's happened to me. But at the same time it's because I haven't had any of it.

05:56:16 - 00:06:10:28

I miss it and I don't get any of those dopamine hits. So what are some things that I've done to get around this so that I can continue to do that, but also have that balance and those, you know, some of those methods that I talked about that have helped me separate myself. And I picked up a part time teaching job at a boot camp.

06:10:28 - 00:06:32:06

And I've also mentor and coach privately on the side, some of the most fulfilling activities for me personally and professionally. And, you know, the teaching is a few days, a week, few hours. I work at this place called Upright Education and then, you know, the people that I coach are some friends, but also like just engineers or product or designers that have come to me and I'm getting that dose of what I'm looking for.

06:32:06 - 00:06:58:22

So one is it's fulfilling and I'm helping people, but these are things that are that are part of my work. When I do have that 9 to 5, especially leadership, these are some of your core explicit, you know, responsibilities and things you need to do to be successful. So while, you know, I feel like I'm not fully back to all the things, you know, having not having the 9 to 5, I've had some things that I've brought back into my life, but they're not so crazy or on balance that it's like, you're tipping back to the work identity piece, piece of it.

06:58:25 - 00:07:15:26

And in the beginning though, I did go a little bit to lean into it because it was it's almost like I'm going through withdrawals. You know, I lost my job from a layoff and I didn't have any of it coming in. And as you go on, you're like, I used to get a lot of good, you know, feel good, you know, from doing those things.

07:15:28 - 00:07:36:28

So nonetheless, you know, I know this is a very, you know, centered video on myself. You know, And again, shameless plug that I'm looking for a role. But I do hope you find it helpful. You know, it's the layoffs. The job market is tough right now, and I understand that. But, you know, we do have to find ways as much as we're hunting and we don't want to lose that or I don't think a lot of us do, but we have to have that balance.

07:37:05 - 00:07:53:27

And so, you know, if you've been impacted by this, you know, I would say is, you know, be willing to say it's like one, it's okay, like you're not worthless or you're not as good as you think because something may be out of your control happened, but you have to reaffirm that for yourself and say those types of things and have the rest of your life or have someone tell you that's not the case.

07:53:27 - 00:08:06:29

Sometimes you can't just tell yourself, so I hope this is helpful. My first video realizing I'm looking all over the place, talking with my hands. But it's a metalhead, but it's a new thing doing video. But I do hope you find this helpful and I'll see you in the next one. Thanks.

- DD