"What am I going to do?" moans the employe who has been fired. First off, says Alexandria psychologist Wayne M. Reznick, there are a number of things you shouldn't do.
"You're human, you can't help but take it personally," acknowledges Reznick, and you're going to be angry, but:
* Don't write the memo to end all memos on "how the company is screwed up." You may need that firm as a reference, or you might want to get hired back, especially if the discharge resulted from the gloomy economy. "It is not unknown that people have been riffed and then un-riffed."
* Don't let your office colleagues know about it right away. "They may be embarrassed and react awkwardly. Their response is often disappointing, and it may even make you angrier."
* Don't start looking for a new job immediately. "You're in no condition to do it. You probably won't come across as somebody desirable."
For at least two days after getting fired, "your judgment will be lousy." The best bet, says Reznick, is to sit back and wait until you have your emotions under better control.
Reznick, who is with Potomac Psychological Resources, offers seminars in "cutting some of the psychological losses" of getting fired and job-hunting guidance for people who have lost a job -- or feel threatened by the possibility. The seminars also are open to family and friends who want to help. "Job loss," he says, "is usually not only a personal, but a family crisis."
The ousted employe may feel "disoriented," "scared," "numb," in a "panic" about money. "We're not going to make you feel happy," he says, but "we hope to get you through it better."
For more information, call Wayne Reznick: 379-9520. His next scheduled seminar, "Job Hunting: Stresses and Strategies," is Saturday, Jan. 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 127 Park St. NE, Vienna. Cosponsor is the Northern Virginia Information and Counseling Center for Women. Fee: $20. To register: 281-2657.
* WELCOME BACK: Check what applies to you, the University of Maryland urges its alumni:
* "I feel like I'm in a rut."
* "My work seems unimportant to me."
* "I often think of making a career or job change"
* "I'm out of work and I don't like it."
A bleak list, no question about it. But the university figures it has a prescription for grads who see themselves in one or more of the categories: "A career checkup for University of Maryland alumni," a two-weekend package of workshops.
Weekend One -- Jan. 7 (4:30-7:30 p.m.) and Jan. 8 (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) -- focuses on "what to do instead of waiting for the RIF notice." Weekend Two -- Jan. 14-15 (same hours) -- covers "creative, purposeful and powerful re'sume', job-seeking and interviewing techniques." (The whole program will be repeated April 15-16 and April 22-23.)
The alumni workshops are being put on by the university's Career Development Center. The fee is $50 for both weekends.
For more information: 454-2813.
* FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Employes at the Champion International timber-products firm, Stamford, Conn., are treated to an unusual dessert with their Friday lunches. After filing through the cafeteria line, they may sit down to a college-level seminar on topics ranging from adolescent psychology to the Renaissance.
It's a part of the company's "philosophy of management," says James Donohue, who heads the training and development office for the 45,000-worker firm, one of the Fortune 500. "We feel we have an obligation to our employes to expand their horizons."
The firm, which also provides a small gymnasium and rooftop jogging track for employe fitness, manages about 3.8 million acres of timber and manufactures building, packaging and paper products. The noon educational program began two years ago when Champion opened a new 700-employe headquarters in Stamford. The seminars are led by professors from nearby Fairfield University, which presents four series a year of from four to eight lectures each.
Among other topics already covered: "America in the '80s" (politics, economy, diplomacy) and "Psychologists Face the Society of the '80s" (everything from the impact of "life style" drugs to coping with life crises in an unsettled world). An upcoming possibility: "Religion in a Pluralistic Society."
Limited to 50 employes at a time, the free seminars consistently have been booked solid. They draw participants from all levels of the hierarchy, from file clerk to executive, and all are urged to join in the discussions that follow. The Champion building now houses a branch showroom of New York's Whitney Museum of American Art, which displays a new show every few weeks open to employes and the community.
While the expectation, says Donohue, is that Champion's workers will benefit personally from the lectures, discussions and artwork, "that satisfaction, I'm sure, carries over into their jobs."
* IT'S NEVER TOO SOON: In a scene repeated at a number of Washington-area high schools, Bethesda's Walter Johnson High School students are using free minutes to drop in at their Career Center to check part-time job listings or sign up for workshops aimed at helping them pick a college or a career.
"Choices made in high school can affect their whole lives," says Carol Cook, Career Center coordinator for the last four years.
Cook's desk is located in a room resembling a library, but hers is a reference room with a difference. Lining the walls are racks of books, magazines and pamphlets limited to one topic: careers. In one corner, college-bound students can view short videotapes of a number of campuses as a help in narrowing the college choice.
"Career awareness," says Cook, is the center's guiding purpose. "We're trying to get kids to think about these questions. We're looking at their strengths, their work characteristics, their special gifts and talents," to help match them with satisfying occupations.
Among Cook's programs are a series of speakers on such Washington career fields as health and government service. She stresses the variety of opportunities in any field. If a student, for example, has his or her heart set on medicine but doesn't have what it takes to be a brain surgeon, there are alternatives, from health aide to medical equipment sales to hospital management.
Last year, 50 career-minded students spent a day "shadowing" an adult in a profession that interested them. One youth trailed after the busy manager of a major Washington hotel and came back convinced hotel management was his field. Even a subsequent part-time job on room-service detail didn't dissuade him.