How did I know I was going to be let go on September 12, 2008? Well, I didn’t. But I knew my company was ‘restructuring’, so I braced myself for the worst. And then came the day that would forever be known as: The Other Black Friday. (cue the ‘dum-dum-DUM!’)
I used to be a radio traffic reporter and worked for my company for nearly 11 years in the top market: New York City. 11 years may seem like a lot, but many of my co-workers had actually been 15 to 20 year veterans. So I guess the low men on the totem pole had to be sacrificed when the company stock plummeted. A total of 19 of us were handed the pink slip that day, so I wasn’t the only one. But I sure felt alone. I went home with my work belongings and cried till my mom came over.
After a weekend of feeling sorry for myself and selling my old designer handbags on Ebay, I got to work on my new job: me! I never wanted to be a radio announcer for the rest of my life. It’s not that glamorous! Besides, the radio business is suffering so badly thanks to the internet and the iPod, who knows what the future holds. I wanted a new career and a new life. I wanted to become…..a nurse.
It’s long way from being a radio announcer to becoming a nurse. The two have little, if anything, in common. One is pseudo-entertainment in the world of media. The other is a noble profession in the health care field. I had actually been thinking about pursuing this career months before being laid off. So with plenty of time on my hands, a severance package, and my unemployment benefits, I began the transition from Radiojenn to RNjenn.
The first thing I did was look into a program with NJ unemployment called tuition waiver. Basically, if you are collecting unemployment in NJ, you can qualify for free tuition to attend a state college or university and pursue an in demand field. The program is designed to make the unemployed more marketable in the job force. With the demand for nurses growing over the next decade (http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos083.htm), I knew I picked the right career. I applied for admission to my local county college, which offered a A.D. in Nursing and prepared students for the RN exam. I was accepted, and since I already had a B.A., all general electives were waived. In December 2008, I went to the unemployment office in East Orange NJ and was granted a tuition waiver for my first semester at Essex County College. Yay me!
I am taking four classes this semester: Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Sociology, and a physical education class. Once these classes are complete, I am qualified to sit for the Nursing Entrance Exam (NET) in September. I pass that test and it’s nursing school for Jenn! If all the cards fall into place, I will start the nursing program in 2010 and graduate by the end of 2011.
Jenn Budd, Registered Nurse. Has a nice ring to it, doens’t it?
When people win awards, they always have someone to thank. Well, upon accepting this prize of a new life, I’d like to thank my former employer. Had you not fired me, I never would have gotten my severance package, unemployment benefits, tuition waiver, and most importantly, the time to go back to school.