‘Tis the season of layoffs! And it’s not a jolly one, by any means. I won’t bother putting links to any news websites, because it’s a well-known fact by now. I work in the software industry, and it has been hit hard (worst?) by layoffs. There were more layoffs in the first three months of 2023 than entire 2022! Most recently, my employer announced its share of layoffs as well. I am not impacted by them, yet.
Like the current layoffs, another thing that’s quite well-known is the insane hiring of software engineers during the peak of COVID. As far as India is concerned, and I won’t be surprised if this was the across the globe as well, only the software and pharma industries witnessed growth during the worst phase of the pandemic.
Fearful thoughts during pandemic Link to heading
It might be safe to claim that most of us didn’t think of COVID as something that will affect us when China announced things on/around 31 December 2019. Most of us were probably partying to welcome the new decade — the roaring twenties — with zero clue about what was coming toward us in next few weeks/months (depending on where you lived then.)
A lot of us probably thought that, “Hey, this is a China problem. I don’t live in China so I’m safe. This won’t impact me.” When it wreaked havoc in Italy in February 2020, we still felt it wasn’t a problem we might face in our country. I remember suggestions (folklore?) of how the COVID virus can’t affect Indians because Indian summer was too hot for it to survive. Another story claimed that lesser in-general hygiene made Indians more “immune” than western folks (note that I’m not talking about the hygiene standards of people, but the garbage dumps lying around in Indian cities/towns/villages.)
When COVID infections started appearing in India, it was Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad that saw maximum patients, while the smaller cities/towns not so much. Yet, many thought they would be safer in smaller towns than larger cities. It took us all some time to come to terms with the possibility (fact?) that irrespective of where we live, or the hygiene protocols we adhere to, or the perceived immunity we possess, this virus might very likely get better of us.
Personal experience during pandemic Link to heading
Personally, I went into panic mode after seeing the reports from Italy. Prior to that, I remember reading an epidemiologist’s blog I found through Hacker News (can’t find the link now) where they said that this could become a thing we have to deal with for next two years, that it might infect a lot of us, and possibly cause deaths in our known circles. The article did scare me, but I thought this US-based epidemiologist is probably exaggerating things to get more view on their blog. Alas, the expert was right, and after seeing Italy’s condition, I was panicking.
I followed all the recommended protocols while my wife found it difficult to adhere with everything I was hell-bent on following. She is the calmer one among the two of us. In the beginning of August 2020, a very close friend’s family was caught up with COVID. Things worsened, and he lost his mother and grandpa within a span of 48 hours. It made things in my head even worse.
The same day as his grandpa died, I started showing symptoms of COVID - sore throat and mild fever. I hoped it was due to the weather, because I followed all the protocols unlike “masses” around me who were gathering in spite of the raging pandemic and humid weather that made infections very normal. Couple of days later, I tested positive for COIVD in spite of a fucking insane adherence to the COVID protocols.
Me & my wife recovered in a couple of weeks. The new joke in my family was, “There are two things that no one in the world has accurate answer to - 1) where COVID itself originated from, and 2) how Dharmit contracted it.” And I agree with the joke.
Layoffs and COVID Link to heading
In spite all the craziness, I contracted COVID. I was so worried I would catch it, that my family was worried about that mental toll causing a physical toll. For someone who believes in “subconscious mind”, I manifested my fear into getting myself bitten by it, obviously unwillingly, instead of staying hopeful/positive and keeping it at bay.
During this time of layoffs, I often think of those times when I was panicked by thought of catching COVID infection. In spite of everything, I got infected. I believe it’s quite similar in layoffs. They started from bigger software companies, and are now impacting a lot of folks across the industry within a few weeks/months (depending on where you work.) They are random enough to not be able to find any concrete pattern in how they are happening. Common narrative of most employers so far seems to be “we over-hired during pandemic”. Another observation I have had is that experimental/futuristic teams are impacted at many companies. But that doesn’t mean that teams bringing revenues are unaffected. I have observed some truly amazing engineers (and a bunch of other roles) getting laid off in companies big and small.
My takeway Link to heading
I don’t want to be living in a constant sense of panic. It’s more harmful than helpful. While I can’t predict if I will be affected by layoffs or not, I’m considering it as a real possibility in current situation. Based on that, the best I could do is to give my best at work, and keep myself updated so that I can start appearing for interviews, if need be. Sheer performance doesn’t look like a defining metric differentiating people being laid off from those who aren’t.
Hopefully the storm will pass soon.