- Quishon Walker is a former recruiter at Tesla. He was laid off on June 17.
- He says the layoffs were sudden and he feels for all the other people left looking for work.
- This is his story, as told to the reporter Jenna Gyimesi.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Quishon Walker, a former Tesla recruiter. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I worked as a recruiter at Tesla for two months before being laid off on June 17. And I'm not alone — the company is planning to lay off 10% of salaried employees.
There was no warning. I wasn't on any performance plan, and I had received nothing but positive feedback during my short stint.
And for what? All for billionaires to continue to save a little more money so they can stay afloat while uprooting the lives of thousands of people.
Tesla was my dream company
I previously worked at Apple and Google and consider myself a tech nerd. I was excited to work at Tesla — it has always been a dream company of mine.
My job was to look for candidates to work on the Autopilot self-driving software and on the deep-learning team. I live in Austin, Texas, and worked remotely. I really loved my job and ordered two Teslas for myself, which I have since canceled.
On the last day of April, our company's CEO, Elon Musk, sent an email saying we needed to return to the office.
My understanding was that I would be a fully remote employee since my entire team was remote. I was transparent with my manager about my intention to work remotely when I was hired, especially since there wouldn't be anyone to collaborate with or support me if I went into the office. And they shared a lot of my concerns.
Then we got word the company was entering a hiring freeze
I was at an Autopilot recruiting event in California on June 2 when I got the email announcing a hiring freeze at Tesla. It was shocking for me. I hadn't been through this situation at any other point in my career.
But my colleagues reassured me that I shouldn't worry about it and that our team would be fine since Autopilot was one of Musk's priorities and personal favorites. We didn't slow down; we just started recruiting at a higher bar and made sure only exceptional candidates got through.
The very next day we found out about job cuts
It was just back-to-back-to-back. The day after the hiring-freeze announcement, we were told the company planned to reduce its salaried workforce by 10%. My colleagues were a bit on edge but still not worried. I was concerned, but I trusted their expertise since they'd been at the company longer than I had. But this was also why I was worried: As the new hire, I didn't have the data or metrics to prove my worth on the team just yet.
Two weeks later, on June 17, while I was on a call with a candidate, I got a text from my colleague that said someone on their team had been laid off.
Shortly after that, I saw an ominous meeting on my calendar
Once a meeting popped up on my calendar that said only "Meeting-Tesla," I knew my time at the company was coming to an end.
I joined the virtual meeting about 45 minutes later, and it was my manager and a member of human resources telling me I would be terminated immediately. They basically read off a script. I know it wasn't their fault, but I struggled to maintain my composure and not cry during the meeting.
When it ended, I took a couple of minutes and sat in shock. And then I cried.
I called my friends and told them what happened. I walked to a friend's apartment, and they made me food, and we came up with something to post on LinkedIn.
Within minutes, my company email was inactive
I tried to log back in to my computer within minutes of being laid off, and it said my email was inactive. I had lost access to everything.
Though I couldn't email my colleagues, I've received messages from them over LinkedIn, and they've been supportive and have helped me try to find other opportunities.
But at the end of the day this situation still sucks, especially because we're most likely at the beginning of a recession, and everything seems to get more expensive as the weeks drag on.
I feel for every employee who's been laid off because we're all scrambling for work now
Now I'm on the hunt for a new job, along with thousands of others who have also been laid off. While I'm in a better financial position than most, it's still tough.
I also feel for current Tesla employees who are still at the company. Their workload just doubled, and they may feel pressured to perform and do their jobs effectively, with so many reductions in headcount across the board.
And it's especially disheartening to see so many people on LinkedIn who have been affected by layoffs but then to also see that Tesla is still hiring in so many areas at this moment.
I advise everyone to look into company culture before accepting a new position. Reach out to current employees and ask hard questions. Lean on the people closest to you and do what you need for your mental health.
Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
If you've been laid off and want to share your story, email Jenna Gyimesi at firstname.lastname@example.org.