Ship it! It = Me.

8 12 2015

I’ve been debating on posting this, but I finally decided that it is a moment in my life that I am comfortable talking about.

Nearly 18 months ago, I was part of the very large layoffs that happened at Microsoft.  Some 18,000 people were laid off in a single day, one of the largest ever at the company.  My time at Microsoft (both as a vendor and as an FTE) was an amazing experience, something that I wouldn’t trade anything for.  Some of the people that I met there have become very close friends and mentors to me.

While it is a difficult situation to go through for anyone, I chose not to let it define who I am.  A support group of sorts popped up which included a lot of people who were affected, all coming from different career paths within Microsoft.  I had a lot of friends outside of the company who offered help and advice, and it was greatly appreciated.  But there was something about being able to lean on complete strangers who would tell me what I needed to hear.  “It’s going to be okay”, “You’ll find something quick”.  Those were nice to hear from family and friends, but in all honesty it didn’t help me figure out what I needed to do.

“Your interview skills are okay, but you should improve this”.  “You tend to ramble when you’re talking about this subject.  Get to the point and move on.”  THOSE are the comments that proved to be the most valuable to me during that time.  I needed someone who didn’t care about making me feel warm and fuzzy; someone who would offer me the truth as long as I was willing to accept it.  With these strangers, we all had a common goal; to get back out in the workforce as soon as we could.   The technical whiteboard sessions, practice interviews, peer resume writing; all these sessions were put together with no formal company or firm.  Just a bunch of people who wanted to work together.

Now, after a year and a half I still talk with a lot of them.  Most have moved on to a new company.  Some went back to Microsoft.  Some decided it was just time to retire.  As more ‘waves’ of layoffs happened, new members were joining the group.  It was my opportunity to help the new folks who were shoved into this bad situation figure out how to move forward.  As the group grew, we wanted something that would really bind us as a group.  A Christmas ornament.  A picture frame.  A keychain.  Something that we could all have that united us as a large group of people who got through tough times together.

Microsoft has a thing called Ship-It awards.  Where you’re on a team that ships a product, you get this little sticker that you can put on your plaque.  I have one for the Xbox One launch, as well as Xbox Music and Video.  Someone in the group, initially as a joke, suggested maybe we could have a ship-it award for the laid off employees.  The idea took off.  A few iterations of the design and it was finally decided.

The Ex-it award.


I have no animosity towards Microsoft or my management.  As I said, I still consider many of them my friends.  Business is business, and I understand that.  To me, this isn’t about reminding myself that I’m better off without Microsoft or as a ‘in your face’ jab at the company.  It’s about a group of strangers who came together to overcome a terrible situation.  It’s about being able to understand that I can’t expect everyone to feel sorry for me.  It’s about picking myself up and doing what I need to do to improve my own situation.

It’s my reminder that I can make it through anything.



One response

8 12 2015

Love your positive attitude!

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