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*Elizabeth was working her dream job as an analyst at a data consulting firm. She thought she would grow at the company… until she got let go four months ago.

When the 29-year-old joined the company a year ago, Elizabeth had come up with a five-year plan. She saw herself climbing up the company ladder, and had spoken to the management on a private scholarship for her future MBA plans.

And although her manager was Cruella De Vil’s incarnate, Elizabeth convinced herself that the interesting job scope and good pay (SGD$53,600 a year) made it worth putting up with her manager. She was sure that her manager would eventually stop nagging at her and nitpicking on her work. But she didn’t.

Still, even though work got tougher, Elizabeth stayed on the job because she witnessed how her friends struggled to find a job after quitting. The fear made her decide to put up with anything that came her way: She would willingly take up menial tasks, as dictated by her manager, and put in overtime work almost every day. Despite that, she was convinced that she had a great job with ample opportunities.

Then came the fateful day. It was June 7, 3pm. She was seated at her office desk, scrolling through the week’s data samples, when her manager walked over to her.

“Can we have a chat?” her manager asked, curtly. 

Elizabeth, thinking it was another typical nagging session, simply nodded her head and followed her manager into a meeting room. 

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When she saw the Human Resources Manager seated in the room, she started to have a bad feeling. There had been talks of a minor retrenchment exercise the previous month, but Elizabeth didn’t think it’d affect her. She was the only analyst in the department and she’d been given a big project to handle just two months ago.

“We’re sorry, but we have to let you go.”

Those words brought about a whirlwind of emotions. It was strange because she never thought she’d feel relieved. Of course, it saddened her to see that her manager offered no empathy, but she wasn’t expecting much. 

For a month, Elizabeth spent almost every day scouting for job opportunities. And she received a few offers, all of which were traineeships that would do no good for her resume.

She finally decided to use this time to do her Masters. She already had plans to apply for a Masters programme in future, but she decided to push her plans forward. She was a week late into the admission window, but when she asked an admissions officer for advice, she was told to submit her application via email and in case anyone drops out of the program, she might get the spot.

retrenchment
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It was an arduous wait. She didn’t know if she should accept the offers she received for jobs she didn’t want or wait it out since her chances of being admitted into the program were slim to none.

Finally, two weeks ago Elizabeth received a conditional offer to be admitted into a Masters Degree Course in Business Administration at the university. And it was at this point that she felt better about being let go at work.

Truth to be told, she knew that she would have put off pursuing her Masters if she continued working. But thankfully, she had set up a separate fund to further her education so she could use it when the opportunity arose.

If this has taught her anything, it’s that setting aside money for your personal goals should always be top priority. And if you’ve always wanted to pursue higher education, having that extra cash will allow you to make your career choices freely.

*Names have been changed for privacy issues.