Carolyn Feltner, EMBA50, wrote this for the Olin Blog.
Touring with the Grateful Dead the summer after college. That is the only time since I was 15 that I didn’t have a job. And I sold water out of my car, so, technically, I was still working. Just ask my parents.
I love working. It gives me fulfillment, a sense of accomplishment and feeling of community. I made many of my best friends at the office.
I am one of thousands whose position was eliminated because of COVID-19. I came home from spring break with my two daughters on a Saturday night. Less than 12 hours later, I went to the office that Sunday to catch up on work, only to walk into my own layoff.
I had been worried about the effect COVID-19 would have on my family’s physical health, but I did not think of how much it could impact our financial health. Talk about your life being flipped in 24 hours.
The question became “Okay, what’s next?” I have more than 20 years of marketing experience and was an EMBA50. I have been honored to be part of two established and respected communities in St. Louis: Olin and Anheuser-Busch.
I had heard of Mary Houlihan before, as she worked at Anheuser-Busch and now is at Olin, but I had never met her. The day I lost my job, March 22, I couldn’t count how many times former colleagues and classmates told me to connect with her, once I had told them my news. And, as if by luck, I received an email that afternoon that Olin was starting a boot camp for MBAs in transition led by Mary Houlihan and Frans VanOudenallen, career coaches at Olin’s Weston Career Center.
The boot camp has been invaluable. Topics such as managing the transition, having the right mindset and getting organized have helped me navigate the beginning of this journey. Peter Ambrose, EMBA12, was a guest speaker at the last session and explained the importance of “emotional resiliency” as we transition during the crisis.
Olin also offers a career group coaching session. I took this course when I started in the EMBA program. At the time, though, I was employed and wasn’t pursuing other career opportunities. It was a great course then, but it is even more vital now.
Mary has been my coach through all of this. She both supports me and pushes me.
Once Olin, always Olin
I have known the strength of the Olin community for a long time. My mother, Sally Roth, EMBA11, has talked about her connection to the school, relationship with the professors and friendships with her classmates. I felt that way while I attended Olin two years ago.
Only now, however, do I understand the significance of my time at Olin. My classmates from industries as diverse as manufacturing, finance and healthcare have reached out. They not only have offered connections and advice, but also they are there for me as friends.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Yes, a layoff can happen to you. Yes, even you.
- Everything happens for a reason (and you will repeat that mantra until you almost believe it).
- Olin staff, faculty and alum are there for you. Reach out to them.
As much as my time at Olin was valuable, the connections I made there have been priceless. Once Olin, always Olin. Now time to find my next career adventure. Unfortunately, no bands are touring now, so I’ll be sticking with marketing.
Photo: Carolyn Feltner, EMBA50