Stories that Matter presents Tanya Modersitzki, a single mother and journalist that lost her job during the coronavirus pandemic. After losing her job Tanya had to rely on her faith to provide for her son, and pull through one of her biggest hurdles. Now, Tanya has moved across the country and opened her own PR firm, and she hopes her story will encourage others to never give up. Please learn more about Tanya below.
Tell us about the day you found out you would be let go from your job? Describe some of the emotions you were feeling?
It was a Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020. A day that I'll never forget. A day that changed my life. I went into work eager to continue my local election coverage. Then my boss called me into his office. I thought it was a typical meeting where he just discusses upcoming stories and ideas. He was very quiet and looked pale. He couldn't make eye contact with me which was weird. Then the general manager came in and handed me a paper and said "unfortunately, Tanya - you're being let go." Everything else he said, it was almost like I couldn't even hear him. It was an out of body experience.
I remember I was trying to refrain from crying and losing my mind in the office. I recall just telling them, "After everything I've done for this station, the award-nominations, the overtime, and everything else I put into this company I'm the one that's let go and impacted by the pandemic." They both couldn't look at me. The moment I got to my car I lost it. I bawled my eyes out and had a panic attack. I couldn't believe this just happened. Me, out of all people. I felt hurt, betrayed, angry, confused. That's when I realized the effects of the pandemic are real.
I told the stories of people on the brink of losing their homes, nothing to eat, and the life changes the pandemic has brought upon families. Now, here I am. On the other side of the stories I told. I kept thinking "where am I going to go? How am I going to pay my rent? How am I going to feed my son?"
My dad passed away in October of 2019, so I was still healing from that tragedy. My dad was my rock. I didn't even have him as an option for help. I was terrified, like when will this nightmare end? Will it end? The moment I got home I immediately applied for unemployment and started applying to every single reporter job that was posted. I even started applying to Target, Kroger, public relation jobs - anything and everything. I was just in a hurry to get employed again. I started doing Door Dash. Talk about humbling. I was being recognized while delivering people their food. I was literally at my lowest and didn't know how I was going to climb out of the hole.
Like many Americans you experienced unemployment during the coronavirus. Can you speak about this in detail and your motivation to not give up?
During my hardships of unemployment, my son is what kept me afloat. I couldn't fold or fail completely because I had a whole life to provide for besides mine. I needed to show him during times of hardship is when you build the most character. When my dad passed, I was so upset with God that I lost my faith, but this incident helped me restore it and build my relationship with God. He's kept my son and I going each and every day.
God reminded me that he makes no mistakes and to be patient. There's a reason why my life is being uprooted and rerouted, which was all the motivation I needed.
How did you figure out what would be next for you and your son? Was this a difficult decision to make?
For three months I applied to jobs nonstop. Kroger and Target were even denying me! I couldn't help thinking there was something wrong with me that these sorts of jobs couldn't even call me back. News stations had hiring freezes, so I wasn't getting responses from them either. I applied to over 800 jobs and had three interviews. I had to make the difficult decision to push my pride aside and ask someone for help. Ask someone if my son and I can live with them temporarily. Do I stay in Macon where there's not many jobs and go to a friend's? Or do I go to a friend's house back in Chicago? Either way, I didn't have my dad here for help. My mom's house in Texas was not an option. I'm all alone. I've never had to live with anyone or been homeless. I cried every single night.
After talking to my loved ones and friends, I decided it was best to move to my friend's house in Chicago and figure it out. I'm still here. It's extremely uncomfortable staying at her home where her parents live, but I am grateful to have a place to crash. I had to make the decision to leave the news business. I have no idea when more news jobs will be plentiful. I've been told from agents they aren't accepting new clients due to lack of jobs. I can't keep moving my son around either. He needs stability now that he's getting older and a year away from middle school.
They say you always make your way back home... and well, here we are. I left the career I loved. News is something I can't live without, but it's a sacrifice I needed to make. I'm still unemployed, but I couldn't sit in my own misery while I kept applying and praying for a job. Starting my own public relations company has been something I thought about heavily for a few years. It was a matter of doing it. It was the perfect time to start and it's a nice side hustle while I figure things out.
Now that you are on the other side of the trial.. any regrets or things you are grateful for?
I'm not completely on the other side of the trial, but I'm certainly close to it! I am extremely grateful for God guiding me through this hard time. If it wasn't for his small miracles, I'm not sure where I'd be. I'm grateful for the entire circumstance. It taught me a lot about myself - like that I'm hardworking, humble, focused, motivated and that I know how to persevere. I'm beyond strong for this situation. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
My son, hugging me and reminding me that everything is going to be alright kept my head up. Also, I'm grateful for my connections back home who reached out for press releases that really sparked the idea that I needed to start my own business. My knowledge of the media can help people get their voices heard.
Tell us more about your PR firm. How can people find it and receive your services?
My PR firm, Modersitzki Public Relations, is for anyone wanting to get the media's attention. Whether it be for your business, your story, your voice - whatever the case may be. If you have a word to spread, but need help getting it in the right hands the right way, I am here to do that for you.
I know my way around the newsroom, I've seen a lot of terrible press releases. I know what assignment editors are looking for when they open emails with press releases attached. I can do it the right way and give the news hook that'll make editors be interested. I'm also available for media kits and training. For a lot of people, they've never been on television, let alone questioned by reporters. I can help prepare you for what reporters will ask and the best way to sell your brand on-air. My company isn't just for Chicagoans by any means, but there's a lot of extremely talented athletes in Chicago. I am working with student-athletes for PR representation, too. They, too, aren't prepared to talk on television a lot of times, or they don"t how to reach out to agents, etc. I'm here to help boost their brand. If you're needing PR for your brand, I can be reached on Instagram @thePRlady, or on our website, https://tanyamodersitzki3.wixsite.com/modersitzkipublicrel
Any advice for others that may be going through a setback that was like yours?
This is a temporary situation. Not your forever situation. Remember to trust the process, keep working on your goals and don't give up. It's all on God's timing. He won't let you down! In these hard times you learn more about yourself than you ever will. You're so strong, and I'm proud of you!
To stay up to date on Tanya’s work and receive her services follow her on Instagram @thePRlady or visit her website https://tanyamodersitzki3.wixsite.com/modersitzkipublicrel
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