Career Coach: You’ve Got a Friend in Me
Last month, I traveled to Florida to present my Career Navigator Program at Digital Media Arts College, a school in Boca Raton. I went one day early so I could have lunch with a friend who worked at Digital Domain Media Group in Port St. Lucie. My friend seemed happy working at Digital Domain. She told me it was unlike any other place she’d worked–it seemed more like a family and that the people were being hired for the long term, not just for a project.
Neither of us suspected that the company would lay off everyone and close its doors just three days later. What was unusual about this company shut down was how people reacted, not just at Digital Domain, but elsewhere. I heard about the closure by email from a concept artist. When I tried to call him to verify the news, he said he’d have to call back as he was helping an animator pack up his stuff.
Activity on the DDMG Facebook page exploded. Over the next few weeks, members of the Digital Domain family came to each other’s aid. One offered spare rooms in her house to anyone who had kids and no place to stay. Free childcare was offered to anyone who needed it while job hunting or packing. Others offered help packing and loading trucks.
One laid-off employee shared advice on how to get out of a lease. Another referred people to an immigration attorney for help with visa issues. There were postings from a production manager who shared the contents of his rolodex and numerous job postings. A former employee offered assistance in outplacement services, a free 2 day seminar on job search tips, how to research a job, writing successful resumes and cover letters, creating demo reels, interview techniques, and using social media for job searching. People shared their favorite websites and job boards. Later they met for a farewell party on the beach.
Someone asked about the best codec to use to upload to the web for Quicktime viewing purposes with the least loss of quality and the lowest MB size. The answer came quickly. An offer of aid for editing the reel followed. Here is a typical post from an employee: “My wife has a masters in Career Development and has worked in that capacity for a number of years. She is willing to review resumes and potentially meet with people to provide career guidance. No charge of course.”
Resume tips and tricks were posted to the Facebook page. Advice about Facebook when hunting for work suggested one of three options–hiding questionable postings, temporarily disabling your account, or setting your visibility to only yourself. (It’s under the privacy setting option.)
Another employee suggested using a password protected Vimeo page for posting reels. “Just make sure it's your own work.”
Help also came from the Port St. Lucie community. Free assistance was offered to anyone who needed to apply for unemployment insurance. The director of the food bank reached out to the displaced employees. Company representatives from Blue Sky, Reel FX, Stereo D and others traveled to Florida and interviewed potential employees. City officials at the Port St. Lucie City Council Meeting offered aid to displaced workers.
At first, I was shocked and saddened by DDMG’s sudden closure. But after a few days, I was inspired, heartened, proud and motivated by my colleagues and their neighbors.
By freely sharing resources many of the displaced workers were able to get the help they needed quickly, including new jobs. Let’s be open to helping others and we’ll find the help we need, when we need it.
I haven’t mentioned any names even though all these people deserve a lot of credit. But none of them did these things for recognition or credit.