On February 2009 I am 25 year old ambitious bank worker. I had been working 3.5 year for a leading bank in Estonia as a clerk but I had recently stopped and switched to another bank. My first bank, although I loved working there, did not offer me the promotion I desired. I dreamed of working as an investment adviser. My employer had enabled me all the necessary training that I needed to work as an investment adviser – just not the job. “We won’t have an opening for the position of investment adviser this year” they said.
Well the competitive bank had an opening – so I sent my CV and the new bank was happy to take me. I got my desired position but my career did not kick off as expected.
The Start of Economical Crisis
End of the 2008 the stock markets started dropping and the economical crisis became real. People did not want to invest anymore. I guess my old bank saw it coming and therefore did not give me any hope of becoming an investment advisor in near future. Unfortunately I did not see it coming and gave up my solid and safe position of clerk in a leading bank and took a position of an investment advisor in one of the smallest banks of the country. That was super risky decision cos while starting a new job one has 4 months of trial period. In my old workplace I had successfully completed the trial 3 years ago but at my new office I had yet to prove myself and I had to do it in very tough conditions. I had to encourage people to invest money while markets were falling. Yeah – I was more like a salesperson than investment advisor. Ofcourse it is possible to make good money during the fall also – you just have concentrate for a sales options rather than stocks or “sell short”. But it’s more challenging than normal stock trade and my potential clients had already started losing money from their stock tradings.
But I did somehow ok. Not too good and not too bad either – that’s at least what my boss told me in the end of my 4th month. He said he would not like me to go after the trial but he was not too sure about keeping me either. He wanted to try my out for one more month
As there is no legal way to extend someone’s trial period he asked me to write a resignation letter with future date. With date of exactly one month ahead. I was not too comfortable with it but I had no choice.
My boss gave me very strict target for that particular month. I had to bring 20 new customers and minimum of 1 million Estonian Kroons (abt 64 226 Eur at that time) worth of investments to the bank. He said if I could do it, he won’t use my resignation letter. So I wrote it.
And I can proudly say – I did meet the target. I brought bit over 20 new customers (ok, yes they included my friends with some minimum amount investments) and I did bring bit over 1 million Estonian Kroons worth investments to the bank – i was able to talk one business man to bring his entire portfolio over cos we had lower maintenance fees for local stock.
I got stabbed in back.
Having meet the target I did not worry much about my future, therefore it came completely out of the blue to me when my boss told thar he was STILL going to use my resignation letter!! He said he would have preferred if that one million would have come together as different portfolios of the 20+ new investors not the way I had done it that 20 people with minimum investments and then one big portfolio. I guess he should have been bit more specific when making the terms on the day he asked me to write the future dated resignation letter……
The thing is that when someone leaving on his own will after the 4 months trial period – he gets no benefits, but when someone is asked to leave after having completed the 4 months trial period then he was entitled to get compensation from employer that covers minimum of 3 months salary (those who have worked longer can get even up to 6 months salary as compensation on such cases).
Well I needed that money. I was getting separated with my boyfriend who was leaving me cos he wanted to fulfill his dream and take a roadtrip to West Africa. He was supposed to leave same day (we had agreed to meet for a lunch from where he was supposed start driving towards West Africa with his friend). Which means I had to start paying the rent alone…. Also during the economical crisis I did not have much hope in finding new job fast enough.
So I needed my 3 months compensation and I decided to be stubborn about it. After all I had meat the target and it was my boss who changed the terms.
I fight for my rights
I said I had changed my mind about “resigning”.
“It will not help you, I am holding a resignation letter with your signature”, my boss replied.
“Well, but resignation letter can always be taken back. This does not finalize anything and I still have to sign the termination of contract. And as long it’s written there “leaving on own free will or with mutual agreement” I just will not sign it!” i stood up to my rights.
My boss asked his boss and the company lawyer to convince me. It was hard – they brought me to the tears many times during this “discussion” but I did not give up. I may have been only 25 yeats old and therefore youngest in the company but I was not stupid! I knew they did not want to go to court. As the future dated resignation letter matter would have not put them in good light there.
Well my stubbornness paid off. They agreed to give my 3 months compensation. Although I was not happy about losing my job – going with money was still better than going empty handed.
During the lunch break I told my boyfriend what had happened and that I had to go back to office to pack my belongings there. He told, he could postpone his road trip for one more day so I could finish handling over my office and grab a backpack with most necessary things so that I could join him as a third person in car for the trip.
I said I need to think about it a bit. Seriously – driving to Africa was his dream not mine. My dream was to graduate University and make awesome career in bank. While thinking about it we drove to the clinic and made the travel vaccinations – just incase I decide to join him…. Well jeah, obviously the decision was there already – I just could not completely believe what the hell I was doing.
When reached back to office I told also my boss that I want to handle everything now cos I wont be able to come back the next day. “I will be DRIVING to Africa” I told him as an explanation. I am pretty sure he thought I was kidding but he was tired of me, so he accepted the explanation and asked no further.
So I swapped my fancy banker’s suit to Mosquito and UV resistant hiking outfit and started the life changing Road Trip. I did not know then that West – Africa will be my home for next 7 years!
I turned from banker to an adventurer!