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Staff reductions October 14, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, work.
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Since I’ve been in school so long, I haven’t worked a job in The Real World for a while.  However, I’ve been listening quite painfully to all the stories that friends and relatives have been sharing the past couple years about their employment going through ‘staff reductions’.  You know, the nice way of saying they’re canning a bunch of people.

I hear stories about the strange ways they let people know, some of them knowing well ahead of time the company will be letting people go, some of whom find out as they’re led away from their desk.  Sometimes they call people into a room one by one to let them know, sometimes they just drop an envelope on your desk.

At a university, it’s a bit different.  Most people know fairly well in advance what the funding situation is and that they will be let go at the end of a semester or school year.  I think most people feel frustrated with the system, but most of the time, it’s not something taken personally.  Funding comes and goes, and sometimes you’re in an unlucky position when it goes.

The place where I work is somewhere between an industry lab and a university.  It’s a nice mix.  We have students who come and go.  Most of the staff are full-time researchers.  Sometimes they teach, but often they don’t.

So it was strange to sit in on my first ever “staff reduction” talk.  Like all other places, money is getting tight and not enough is coming in.  At the end of some of our projects, some people will be let go.  Unfortunately, because of the magnitude of the changes, not just a student here or there, we ended up having a big meeting.

I had to admit that the whole experience was surreal, maybe because I’ve never been through it before.  And while I’ve always been interested (and heartbroken) to hear other people’s stories about these types of incidents, I am rather disappointed at having my own.

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Comments»

1. fargojones - October 14, 2011

That truly sucks. The worst is how do you keep finding enjoyment in what you do when the stability is taken away? I also experienced staff reductions, though it mostly happened by people not being replaced when they left, so I was doing 3 people’s jobs by the end. All the best to you.

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2. Charles Gervasi - October 14, 2011

I am a huge fan of layoffs because they move you to new types of projects. Ignore all the melodrama around them. I do know they’re harder in a small city. Even so, if I got the notion they weren’t hopeful about what you can do for them and scared the talk of layoffs might run you off I’d go find someone who is excited about what you can do. Good luck. This could be an exciting time coming up.

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