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Back to Work: Lessons Learned While Unemployed

Michael Kelly and Brian Small

Seven years ago, Michael Kelly, a recent college graduate, left Philadelphia and moved to New York City with limited savings in the hopes of building a writing career.
The first two years were rough with many ups and downs. He found jobs ranging from clothing retail to reception until he eventually found his break. Michael quickly became an advertising writer for a high-profile hair care line.
For the next five years, Michael lived the New York dream--enjoying the finer things the city had to offer and treating himself to expensive clothes and frequent nights out. As quickly as he was making money, he also seemed to be spending it, leaving no safety net.

Then as quickly as it came, it went away. Michael was laid off and had no plan B. With no savings, Michael was forced to leave New York and returned to Philadelphia to live with family. Unemployment was tough for Michael both economically and emotionally. But with the obstacle came a life lesson. During his unemployment Michael learned two important lessons.  

First, he needed to rethink his spending and saving habits. His objective was not to repeat his past mistakes. Michael focused on all the ways he was wasting money and learned to budget and focus on the long-term.  

Second, he learned to stay busy while unemployed. Volunteering soon became a refuge. It gave him hope and soon led to professional opportunities.

Here are some his tips he learned while on unemployment:

  • Stay positive and don’t' give up. People are attracted to those with a good attitude.
  • Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to network and also allows one to participate in cultural events for free.
  • Use this time to reflect on your past mistakes and create a new plan.
  • Remember the bad times. It will keep you focused and help you stick to your plan.

After learning how to live a completely different kind of lifestyle with tricks to save, he found himself back in the work force and a little wiser when it comes to the dollar. Today, he makes less than he did a few years ago but has more money than ever.