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Layed Off!

Hmm, I guess I'm doing somewhat better at keeping this up to date, being an entire year hasn't gone by yet since my last post. :) Quite a bit has happened though, so I really need to catch up here. On the 8th of this past December, I was laid off at iContact, along with three other guys from the same work group, all of us on the same day. The layoff consisted of three Sysadmins (including me), a Senior and a Junior Database Admin, and a Database Engineer. They kept the Junior DBA and the most-recently-hired Sysadmin, and let the rest of us go. In November they had laid off one of the IT group guys, and they later let another one of them go in January, from a group that had grown to a total of seven people. As I write this it occurs to me at eight out of thirteen people, that is more than half of the two groups laid off from iContact in less than three months time!

When I started there back in July of '08, the Internal IT and the Infrastructure IT staff were all one group. Heck, we were only three and a half guys, so of course it was one group: the Senior DBA (who doubled as a Sysadmin), the Junior DBA (who at the time only worked part-time – he's the “half guy” in the count), the IT/Help Desk guy, and me. There was supposed to be another Sysadmin, but right after I was hired he moved on to another job elsewhere. During the first few months, most of my time was spent with the IT/Help Desk work back log by helping with the new phone system (one that I'd had no prior experience with), and with internal mail and file server issues. I've never been calendar-minded, so I'm can't put firm dates on when we picked up the other team members, but between late in '08 and the middle of '09, we had hired another Sysadmin, a Junior Sysadmin, a Network Admin and a group Manager, and the part-time Junior DBA became a full-time DBA. This brought the IT team head count up to eight, including the manager. Our IT team was a part of the company's Technology Department, which included the Development, QA, Operations and Project Mgmt teams, and those teams were all growing as quickly as well, and around the summer of last year the IT team was divided into two groups: IT and Infrastructure. The IT team got the Junior Sysadmin, and then picked up another couple of Help Desk guys, a Data Analyst and a Salesforce Admin. On the Infrastructure side, we got the team Manager and later hired a couple of Sysadmins, but unfortunately one of them only lasted a couple of weeks because he was offered a better position elsewhere.

And when I thought we finally had enough people to start getting ahead of the game rather than just barely keeping our heads above water, the groups started shrinking again. The Team Manager was let go, and maybe a month later the Network Admin was sent packing. After that, it was the Junior Sysadmin. And on the morning of the 8th of December, four of us received an e-mail with a subject line saying something about an upcoming scheduled maintenance window, that asked us to attend a meeting at 10:30 later that same day. When we walked into the meeting, we were met by the Director of Technology and, much to our surprise, the HR Director. As soon as we sat down, the bomb was dropped: We were told that we were being let go immediately, but that we were being offered severence packages (provided we agreed to the terms therein, naturally). As you can imagine, this came as a bit of a shock, and was definitely no-one's idea of the best Christmas news ever. During the meeting, the words of Dickens' Tiny Tim kept echoing ironically inside my head: “God bless us every one!” It was totally unreal.

After the meeting, we were walked back to our desks to get our personal belonging, and then out the front door. I guess you could say we were all in shock. Three of us just stood outside, looking at each other in unbelief and watching as the DBA stormed off in his car. Not knowing what else to do, I asked the other two: “Hey, you guys want to go somewhere and get a beer, so we can sit down and figure out just what happened?” Being that it wasn't even lunchtime yet, we decided to just buy some sixers and go hang out at the house of the one who lived closest.

It wasn't all that bad though, once the shock wore off. Although I naturally can't go into any detail about the severence (you know how it is: mum's the word), I decided I could afford to take a much longer “Christmas” vacation than usual. It's been great being able to spend time with my wife and son. As well, when my brother recently came to visit (during the week), I was able to take the time to enjoy hanging out with him and my two young nieces. When it was time for him to leave, I got to ride with him to D.C. and spend a couple of days there as well. And you know how we all have “around-the-house” projects that never ever seem to get done? Mine are all finished! In the past, my wife and son have spent vacation times together when he's been out of school, while I enviously went to work. But just last week, we took a road trip together to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and to see NYC for the first time.

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