When You Lock The Office For The Last Time – Oren Cohen

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Oren Cohen
My Nieces Are Richer Than Me Oren Cohen


You don’t expect it when the company you work for shuts down.

Imagine coming to work every day and playing video games for a living. That was my life until two years ago when the company closed unexpectedly.

While looking for work during my Computer Science degree, I’ve looked everywhere for entry-level jobs related to my field. That’s when I finally found a Facebook post from a video game company in Israel asking for QA Testers. I immediately applied.

After a couple of rounds, I got the job. That night after the call and my enthusiastic Yes, I fell asleep with a smile on my face. I was still having a hard time believing I would receive a salary for playing video games and finding bugs in them. This was going to be my first job in the High-Tech Industry.

Fast forward two years later, and the entire team was called for a meeting. Basically, the main takeaway was this: “We’re going through some rough times. If we can’t find an investor or a new project, we will have to give out the notice and close the company.”

The company was making video games for clients. We didn’t have a product of our own. Naturally, that meant a constant risk. But the company — as I discovered sometime after joining — was already up for five years before my joining so I guess they were doing something right.

We put too much faith in a project with a big mobile-games company, but that company canceled the project after almost two years of development — and cost us everything.

I felt like falling. My dream job was cracking. I hated the fact I would have to look for a job again. Everyone in the Computer Science industry can sympathize with the amount of work we put in as we prepare for an interview. Then you’re too nervous or have a blackout and things fall apart.

Just as I feared, two weeks later, In the middle of November 2016, I got the notice. I had an interview with my boss telling me that the reason the company is closing is that we don’t have enough money. That day, my boss, who was sympathetic to me being a religious person working in the industry — but secular himself — told me one word. One word that made me understand it was all over:

Pray.

When I got out of that room, everything seemed different. Like a Vuja-de. I was seeing familiar things with a new light. My desk where I played hours upon hours of video games every day would be sold, my work email which I will have to scour for interesting emails I should keep before it is closed. The Office which I’ll never visit again. And last but not least — my friends.

My dear work friends and I will now have to stand the test of time and see if we stay in touch or grow apart. All of them were geeks like me. Today, almost three years later, there is only one of them I occasionally stay in touch with. It’s sad, but that’s life.

The last day of my work was a Thursday. In Israel, Thursday is the last workday of the week before the weekend. I stayed last in the office. My last day at work allowed me to see the office one last time as a typical workplace. My boss sold the furniture and hardware the following week.

I closed all the windows, turned off all the computers and then the lights alongside the little hope I had that everything would turn for the better.

I locked the door and stood there for a minute to take it all in. The little salon we had at the entrance, the plush toys, the kitchen with all the munch. Would I ever find such a gamer-friendly office again?

I left a tear or two right there by the locked door of an office I’ll never set foot in again and walked away to my next destination in life — another video game company — this time with a product of their own.

As I walked away, one idea burned itself into my mind. This was my job. My primary source of income. It was also my first workplace in the industry. An early lesson that a workplace is not infallible and that if I want to secure my financial future, I will have to do it myself.

The chapter of my first workplace in the high-tech industry has ended, but I had a lot of food for thought for my next challenges in life. My eyes may have been red, but I did manage to smile because I learned something from this experience.

The future, even though uncertain, was still filled with light.



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