Elijah Verdoorn

Programmer, Designer, Musician

What's Next?


On Thursday, April 30th I was laid off from my job at WeWork. I’m not going to lie, the news came as a shock. I had woken up that morning with intentions to merge code, review pull requests, and perform my usual duties. I was excited to keep driving my projects forward, looking forward to seeing progress, and generally felt positive about my position. Clearly, that day didn’t go as planned. As I’ve been reading my social media feeds these past few weeks I’m understanding that there are many who have similar experiences to me: a “normal” day that turns out to be one’s last day. I empathize with my friends across the tech industry who are going through similar times: Lyft, Lime, TripActions, VSCO, and Carta, just to name a few. It’s a challenging time for the world and an important reminder that no matter how comfortable and confident one is in their situation it can all be changed in an instant, we should never take our jobs for granted. I will seek to keep that in mind and remain humbly thankful going forward into whatever role I take on next.

Why did this layoff come as such a surprise to me? After all, WeWork was already in a challenging period in it’s history, and the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 does nothing to help the situation. I wonder now if I should have seen this coming, but then I remember that throughout recent times I was a productive member of a team deployed to a key project within the company - a project that had even been recently highlighted at an all-company meeting to thousands of fellow WeWork employees! I was on the verge of crossing major milestones towards delivering my work to users, and on top of that was already deep in the planning and research phases of the next steps I could take to bring even more value to subsequent versions of the app. I didn’t have indication that I should be afraid for the security of my job.

Following the initial jolt of surprise at the news, my feelings evolved. I became and continue to feel somewhat hurt. I care deeply about my work, my co-workers, and the experiences that we were building for our users. It pains me that I won’t be able to continue to contribute to the important task of supporting WeWork members, and even more deeply sore is the knowledge that I won’t be able to build alongside the team that I had come to know and admire. It truly is one’s co-workers who can make or break any working environment; I count myself blessed to have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the most talented, kind, and friendly people I’ve met in the industry to this point, I am remiss to leave them. Alongside the generic hurt feeling that comes with the unexpected conclusion of any chapter in one’s life I am also experiencing a good amount of disappointment - I had gotten excited about the projects that were coming up and was looking forward to the learning that I would get to do as I developed solutions to the unique problems posed by the WeWork domain.

Having acknowledged my emotions, over time these gut reactions diminish and I become more logical about the situation. I advance past the panic and frenzy towards more rational, incremental forward motion. As I take these steps I’m finding that the strongest lingering sense is one of trepidation, likely caused by fear of the unknown. I am facing the reality that I’m without a job for the first time since high school: I am blessed to have graduated college directly into a job; during the course of my studies I held internships, campus jobs, and summer jobs; in high school I worked at my local library. Contributing to my stress related to this situation is, of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: it’s not a good time to be without a job since many companies have frozen hiring and are waiting for the economy to stabilize before resuming their normal hiring programs.

I’ve been able to temper my reaction to the challenges of this situation thanks in no small part to the amazing support network that I am surrounded by. The cornerstones of this network have been my parents and brothers, each of whom has been there for me in unique and important ways; I can’t thank them enough. My peers and team at WeWork have been steadfast in their encouragement, and my wider network continues to play an important part in driving me forward. I’m deeply grateful for everyone who has sent me a message, email, or phone call to voice their support; it means a lot.

So, bolstered by the support of so many wonderful people in my life, the question becomes simple: “What’s Next?”.

My favorite TV President.

I’m spending a lot of my time asking myself questions about where I see myself at various points in the future: 1, 5, and even 10 years down the line, what do I want to be doing? Where do I want to be? I’m also spending time learning new skills and refreshing old ones. I’m looking forward to having time to dive into topics that I’ve been interested in but have fallen to the wayside as I’ve focused on the areas that are most relevant to my occupation. At the moment, these areas include iOS development, game development with Unity, and exploring improvements I can make to some of the existing projects I’ve published (shameless plug: check out my Projects page to learn more!). I’m going to make the most of the unexpected time that I have so I can charge headlong into whatever I choose to do next stronger than ever; in order ensure my success in this time I’m keeping myself accountable to working normal hours, sticking with a routine that supports my overall health and happiness. I’m also leaning on my community more than ever, staying as connected as I can via digital means and asking for help when I know I need it.

I’m confident that all these practices will lead to me finding another job to be excited about in short order. I’m especially interested in opportunities that allow me to continue to grow and develop my core engineering skills, designing and delivering applications to create exciting new experiences. My experience on the Android platform thus far in my career has been great so I’d gladly continue to work in that area. I’d also be open to exploring how I could take what I’ve learned thus far and apply it to another platform: the web, backend, voice-enabled devices, and internet-of-things worlds all stand out as areas that I could see myself enjoying in my next job. I also want to continue to build myself as a leader so opportunities within growing organizations would be especially interesting. I believe that an important part of technical leadership is the ability to communicate: improving my writing and speaking has been a focus of mine in recent months, roles that allow me to continue to build on my existing foundation in this realm will be high on my list. With those ideas in mind if you know of an opportunity that might match my skills and help me achieve my career development goals I’d love to hear from you, get in touch with me via any means available over on my Contact page.