conversations with coco

A Conversation with Amanda Phuong




Amanda Phuong is the Editor-In-Chief of and Impressive, right? But that didn’t come with setbacks leading up to this point in her career–like getting fired! I sat down with Amanda to talk about how getting fired changed her life for the better. Find the full interview in the video below.


Where were you fired from, and for what reason were you fired?

Back when I was in university, I was juggling school with two part-time jobs: one at American Apparel and the other at Aritzia. After learning I had gotten an internship with StyleDemocracy (where I’m currently working), I thought it best to jump ship from Aritzia and take on more hours at American Apparel, where I had worked as a visual merchandiser for the past 3 years.

I emailed the District Merchandising Manager to ask for more hours – he seemed very gung-ho to have me back. In turn, he emailed his district team to ask their opinion on my return, with me CC’d on the email. One of the district managers failed to realize I was on the email, simply responding, “No. I don’t really like her.” Shortly after, the email was followed up with another from my store manager, asking me to come in and sign resignation papers.

To this day, I will never fully understand as to why I was let go, though I believe it was a combination of my schedule, personal relationship with the District Manager, and merchandising skills (or lack thereof).


What advice would you give someone who has recently been fired and feels like their life is over?

When I found out I was fired from American Apparel, I was devastated. I had a lot of close friends there, and it was really hard not to take it personally, especially after receiving an email like that.

My advice to someone who has recently been fired would be to take a step back to understand why. In my case, I was merchandising, and while I loved clothes and retail, it turned out that that path wasn’t for me. I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason, and while it can be hard to stay positive, it is really important to stay upbeat.

Take a bad situation and learn from it. Use it to help you grow.


How do you look for a new opportunity when you feel hurt, ashamed, embarrassed, from being let go? Are there other ways that you can explain how you did that?

In my case, I really wanted to prove that just because I had lost my job, that didn’t mean that I was worthless. And again, it’s hard not to feel like you’re worthless in a situation like that. But the best revenge is living well – not being spiteful, but showing that you are a capable, strong person.

I used my getting fired as an anecdote. I told everyone I knew I was out of a job and the “funny” story of how it happened. Eventually, someone came up with a lead and I ended up getting another job a couple of weeks after.

Take the time you need (if your bank account allows it) and then start looking for jobs – online and within your networks. People love employing people they already know or have already been vouched for, so reach out to everyone and let them know you’re looking – don’t be embarrassed because almost everyone has been there at one point or another. You never know what opportunities will arise if you just put yourself out there.


What would you say to younger people starting out in the business field?

Try everything. Get out of your comfort zone. Meet new people and take on opportunities as they come. My boss once told me, “Stay hungry until you make it”, meaning don’t settle, always challenge yourself, and don’t rest until you’ve met your idea of success.

And if you have no idea where to start, think about where you see yourself in the long run. Look at someone who has your dream job, see where they started and what path they took to get there – LinkedIn is a good place to begin!


Have you had to let anyone go yourself? (And if not, how would you foresee yourself doing it to make sure it ended on amicable terms?)

Luckily, I’ve never had to let someone go, but I have had to write end of term reports for interns and temporary employees, which is difficult. Telling someone they are doing a bad job is awkward, but in the end, you’re not doing anyone any favours by tiptoeing around the situation. The person you’re managing will never be able to grow if a little constructive criticism isn’t given when needed. No one is perfect – we all can improve in some ways. Start the conversation with what the employee is doing well, and tell them where there is room to improve, but most importantly, how to improve. Sometimes certain relationships don’t work out, but it doesn’t mean that those people aren’t built for success… They just need a little more guidance or direction, even if that direction is towards another place of employment.


What have you learned from your work experience? Let us know in the comments!


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