Day# 152: I got fired from my first job out of college, and I SURVIVED

Day# 152: I got fired from my first job out of college, and I SURVIVED

Hi there and welcome to Uxergirl, a blog where I discuss UX, design and behavioral science. Today I wanted to discuss somewhat of a personal topic, I have mentioned it before but today I wanted to discuss it in detail. To set the backdrop of this story, I will start at college. I was a third year student, desperate to get into a full time position. We had an internship segment to our third year and I jumped at the opportunity excited to learn. I was really a hard working student at college, this is really not me tooting my own horn, I had no personal life and even became somewhat anti social I think, I was just so focused on becoming a designer at that point to have some independence in my life. Anyway one of my lecturers helped me get an internship at my first agency gig and I was thrilled, I woke up around 5am every morning to take two buses, so that I could make it to the place where I was working. The bus dropped me off 10 minutes away from the offices so everyday I had to walk but I loved every single day that I was there. I got great experience at this place, their internal designer was on leave at that point so they ended up paying me which actually was not even a must from the get go because I had agreed to doing the internship with no payment. Anyway at the end of the 3 weeks, I left feeling happy with my experience and having a few actual living pieces to add into my portfolio.


At the end of the year my lecturer spoke with me again and said that the agency that was just opposite our college was looking for designers and would I like to intern with them with the possibility for employment. Again I jumped at the opportunity, however now the lack of finances was starting to become an issue, I was still living in my mother’s house however I was becoming desperate to have some money of my own. So I took the job with the agency as an intern and worked nights at a bar just down the road so that I could have extra cash. Back then I didn’t even have a car, so I was sometimes staying at friends places and going straight to work in the morning. Eventually I naturally started slacking with work, I was just so tired and frustrated, there were evenings at said agency where I would work till 8pm then go straight to work after that and get to a friends place at like 3AM. I started going to this agency less and less, and eventually I decided to let them know that it wasn’t working for me. My college managed to step in yet again and help me, by the way this was not that normal, they did not help everyone like this. I was recommended for a position at an agency, I still remember the day it was at our exhibition night. Everyone was around, hoping to have some big agency come and snatch you up from the stress of graduating without any prospects of a career, I was standing at my section when a women walked straight up to me, she asked me my name, and handed me her business card saying my lecturer had recommended me. I was astonished, taken aback and so proud to be the one of two people that had been recommended. See my lecturer had recommended two people that day and both of us got internships with this company.


I started working there, but soon it became clear that I was making too many mistakes, at the previous agency their process was having QA check design work before it went to client. However this was a smaller agency and checking one’s own work was crucial, I suppose I had not learned how to do this, and even after the warning I tried to have a method for checking my work but it never helped there would always be a mistake here or there. They brought me in for a meeting with my team lead and then copy had a turn to indicate my mistakes, then design and then I got a chance to have my say. I apologized but in truth, I was just scared, my fear compounded into more fear, I didn’t know how to create a process to stop all my mistakes. Then one day H.R came in and I was called into a private meeting room, they gave me a letter saying that they wouldn’t hire me after the 3 month probation period of us as interns. She asked me if I needed to step outside, I still remember saying I’m ok thanks and smiling back at her in reassurance. Thinking about how I felt back then makes me so sad for younger me, I felt so defeated. I thought I was going to land an industry job and just be happy forever, I guess in truth I didn’t really think about what would happen after college, I just thought everything would work out. Yet nothing did, I came home and had to tell my mother that i got fired. I’m embarrassed to say, I never even pitched for my last day at that company, I was just so embarrassed by the whole situation. Totally thinking everything was my fault, in retrospect I made a lot of mistakes, I also had notions of what the working world would be and it was nothing like that. It took me a long time to build up my confidence after this blow, I would work odd jobs and even leave the design industry altogether for teaching for a while. I became paranoid about making mistakes when I eventually got back into design, thinking that companies would fire me the first chance they got, just to be clear I really don’t blame that agency. At the end of the day they did follow all the correct legal procedures, and gave me a warning etc. I just had no idea how to even improve myself, I was also going through a lot with my personal life as has actually been an ongoing situation for many years for me. Luckily I have also left all that drama behind now as an adult, and my own home is peaceful and happy 🙂


I would say something I have learned about myself over the years is that I am not a “pixel perfect designer” and those job specs always made me nervous. I was in an industry which really was not suited to me. How you ask did I then make it all the way through college? Well I really loved research, my research and planning of my process etc would be extremely high marks all the time and my final projects would lack balance of the final outcome. I have done some great design work that I am pretty proud of, but this was never the only industry for me, and I’m just really glad that I found UX when I did. It really has been job after job, thinking that this company will be the one I will stay with, when in fact it was a deeper issue which I didn’t have the strength to identify at the time. It really is difficult to start out in a new field, lucky for me, my design background helped me get my foot in the door of UX design and finally I don’t have to be a “pixel perfect” designer anymore. Happy researching until next time Uxers


Bye for now

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