Photo by Lucie Wicker Photography
A little over 2 years ago, I had just passed my professional engineering (PE) exam as an HVAC engineer and was making my way to becoming a sustainability and process leader at my company. One of my hobbies and side passions was building community and inspiring others to become a better, healthier version of themselves. I even convinced my boss at the time and the head of engineering to both run their first half marathon! It was so rewarding and exciting to encourage them both to challenge themselves and reach this new fitness goal.
My blog and passion provided me the opportunity to join a fitness startup as a blogger and community manager at ClassPass–a company I was obsessed with. What was I to do? I had been working hard, paving a path I was really starting to enjoy as an engineer! But I had no kids (and no plans of any kids anytime soon), no mortgage, and knew in my heart I would really regret not giving this opportunity a try. I knew that I could always go back to engineering if I wanted to but I could never go back and try to take this opportunity. I quit my corporate job to follow my passion.
Over the past 2 years, my friends and former colleagues would always ask me if I missed engineering. They might have been surprised to hear that my answer was yes–I mean I was working for a really cool tech startup…why would I miss engineering? But as I mentioned in my post when I quit my job, I wasn’t unhappy at my engineering job, I just didn’t want to miss out and have regrets on a once in a lifetime experience that also could be amazing and a job that I love.
I’m writing today to tell you that I have decided to go back to my engineering career. I loved my job at ClassPass, but was really missing engineering. I missed the energy modeling, helping spearhead sustainability and Lean efforts, developing new processes for integrating Building Information Modeling (BIM) and designing systems that provided safe environments for healthcare facilities to help patients get better. One of my first projects that I got to really work on from start to (almost end) was a cancer center where patients would go for chemotherapy!
When I went to renew my PE a few months ago, I felt sad that I worked so hard for my PE and missed my engineering work even more. An extreme sense of FOMO manifested–friends who were at a similar level as myself when I left the industry were learning and growing as engineers. When the HR woman gave me my exit interview at my last company, she said that she was so happy for me but also sad to lose a female engineer who she thought was such a good role model…and it made me sad too. I talked to my friend and mentioned that I feel like people will judge me because I wasn’t pursuing my “passion” in fitness if I went back to engineering. She said, “But you are passionate about engineering too!” That really made think…it’s okay to have two passions! I already knew that I could be an engineer and still keep up my fitness passions on the side but doing the reverse was really difficult–actually…nearly impossible. I could always go back to engineering but it would be tougher to get back into it the longer I was out of the game.
I started to talk to my connections and explore my options back into engineering. I was not only excited about going back but also having the opportunity to investigate other firms and what it could look like to work there. The best situation is to be looking for a job when you have a job.
But then, I got let go from my job. I wanted to start by saying that I generally try to keep my social media positive and not share personal feelings that might be a little more on the negative side. We all have those times where you get sad or feel discouraged but I try to keep them private from social media–I guess this is a friendly reminder that you never know what someone might be going through. I want to share my feelings regarding being let go because many others probably felt the same way I had. I want to let you know that even people who seem like they have all their ducks in a row, have things happen to them too. I had all sorts of feelings when I found out the news. I felt sad. I felt rejected. I felt that I wasn’t good enough. I felt embarrassed. I tried to think of what I could have done to prevent this. I thought that people will think that I’m going back to engineering because I failed at ClassPass. I thought that the companies wouldn’t want me anymore.
I reminded myself that I sincerely wanted to go back to engineering and made that decision before I was let go–so who cares what other people think. I reminded myself that I have known so many hard working, passionate people that I respect get let go from jobs and go on to find new jobs that they love. People get let go–it just happens and it will be natural to feel all the feelings that I had. Lastly, nothing changed once I let the companies know and I was able to secure multiple offers in less than a week of getting the news. I feel so thankful that I was able to get offers so quickly and the fact that I was able to choose between companies. This is not the typical situation so don’t feel bad if you got let go and don’t have offers immediately. I was lucky because I knew what I wanted and was already talking to companies that I had strong relationships with.
After exploring my options, I’m excited to say that I’ll be going back home to my last company! I had worked at this company for just over 6 years and had been there since I got out of school. I’m excited to get back into that role and path that I was on and am thankful to have even more appreciation for the parts of my job as an engineer that I loved! This company not only has great opportunities for my career growth but also feels like home.
I also want to emphasize that I do NOT in any way regret “quitting my job to follow my passion” and do NOT in any way feel like I’m quitting on pursuing my passion. I am SO proud of myself for pursuing my passion in fitness and building community as a career. I have learned so much that I wouldn’t have learned had I not taken this risk. I never in a million years thought I would be working for a cool, fitness startup (and remotely for that matter). Some might feel that I’m quitting because I should get a job in marketing or fitness at another company. But I don’t want to. I had my experience and in that experience I learned that I want to pursue my engineering career and dabble in marketing/fitness as a hobby. I’m looking forward to using the new skills and knowledge I gained through my 2 years working outside the engineering field to make myself more unique and valuable as an engineer. I can also use the skills and knowledge to become a better blogger and build the fitness community as a hobby. I think I’ll actually get back to blogging more consistently and may even have more opportunities to partner with studios now that the relationship isn’t a little blurred because of my job.
I love stepping outside of that comfort zone and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Trying a new career as a marketer may be one way to do that, but even though I was trained as an engineer, engineering can also be out of my comfort zone. I am always challenged, learning and problem solving. I think that you can get stuck in the comfort zone in any job. It’s up to you to push yourself to get to the next level and your mentors to be there to support you. I might be going back to the corporate world, but there is nothing wrong with that. People asked if the culture was so different at a startup versus my other job. It was in some ways but in others it wasn’t. My engineering job was flexible where I could still fit in midday runs as long as I was available for my meetings and got my work done. My group went for coffee walks and happy hours. Some of us even worked out together! I mean…check out this music video we made!!
So you may also be wondering…will I still be a ClassPass member? I’m currently training for a November marathon and have mostly been focusing going to Kick It by Eliza classes. I will likely go on the base plan (5 classes per month) or on hold for a month and then base plan. I get some free classes because I’m Kick It instructor and I also have a class pack for Everybody Fights (EBF) that I purchased a while back. Being on hold allows me to get one class a month which might be fine until I use up my EBF classes. Cross-training is important for my injury prevention and I have been trying to get to 1-2 classes a week. If all goes well with my November marathon, I’ll likely sign up for another marathon and the 5 classes per month is just enough to get my class fix! I fully believe in what ClassPass is building and being let go from the company doesn’t change my feelings towards them. I look forward to seeing all of their amazing visions come to life!
Here’s to the next chapter in my life!