Friday, June 5, 2015

Time for a Change

Hello all!  Did you miss me?   

It has been an insanely busy spring for me, which I’m sure many people can relate to.  In addition to planning my wedding, I was up to my eyeballs at work. 

For the last several years, I have worked at a nuclear power plant.  And before you ask, no – I don’t have gills, I don’t glow, and I haven’t developed any superpowers (that I know of).  I have, however, grown tired and jaded.  Anyone that is familiar with nuclear power will tell you that it is special and unique.  The fuel has a very high energy density, gives off radiation, and gives off a lot of heat even when it’s not active.  Because of these things, nuclear power has very strict regulation and very strict operating processes (think US Navy).  On the one hand, I completely agree that the regulation is necessary, and I sleep better at night knowing that the plants are operated safely.  On the other hand, I find the work environment tedious, demanding, and very stressful.  Some people thrive in strict conditions, but it was wearing me down.

I had transferred into a new job about six months ago, and it was clear to me very quickly that the position was not a good fit for me.  The hours were much earlier and much longer than I had expected, but at the same time there was not sufficient work load to keep me busy, or even engaged, during the ten-plus hours a day that I spent at work.  I was not happy, and I knew I could not keep doing this for much longer.  I refreshed my resume and started looking for other jobs at the beginning of the year. 

The last time I seriously job hunted externally was after graduating with my bachelor’s degree (before taking a job with company I work for now).  It was a nightmare.  I was working part time for minimum wage and crashing with a family member.  Even though I submitted hundreds of applications, I only got a couple of interviews.  Let’s just say 2010 was not a good time to be job hunting.  When I finally did get a job offer, I took it without hesitation despite knowing nothing about nuclear power.  I was just so relieved and grateful to have a job - any job - in a technical field.

This time around, I had the luxury of already being employed while I was hunting, so the urgency was considerably lower.  I didn’t have to look for any job I could get; I could be picky and try to find something that would really interest me.  So, I was picky.  I applied for all sorts of different industries that interested me, even if my experience was not directly relevant. 

After a couple of months of hunting and applications, I was contacted by a really exciting company.  They brought me onsite for an interview, and I was thrilled with the description of the job and the work environment.  I knew I could be happy there, challenged and engaged.  There was just one little problem – the compensation was not as good as my current gig.  I did a bunch of number crunching and soul searching with my fiancĂ©, and together we decided that I should go for it anyway.  The benefits were very comparable, and the salary was only a little lower than I was currently bringing in. 

That is not to say that the whole process was smooth.  While their initial offer was very strong, it was still something of a disappointment to know that I would be taking a pay cut.  Even though I had never negotiated a salary before (shock horror), I felt very compelled to negotiate for this position.  Partly I felt like it would make a good impression on my new boss, since part of my new job would be negotiating with vendors.  How could they expect me to negotiate effectively for the company if I wasn’t even willing to negotiate for myself?  Secondly, I felt like I was worth a higher salary based on my education, my work experience, and the current market conditions.  After a little back and forth, I was able to raise my offer by 3.5%, closing the gap between the salaries. 

After accepting the new job, I submitted my resignation with my current employer.  Despite the frustrations of my job and the nature of the industry, I still felt a strong sense of loyalty to the company and found it very emotional to hand over my resignation letter.   However, there was a huge sense of relief once I got past that hurdle.  I’m in the home stretch now. 

I am not entirely sure what the new job will bring professionally or how the change will affect my home life.  But I do know that I am already feeling less stressed and very excited about starting a new chapter.  I’m really looking forward to using my business education as much as my technical knowledge and very excited to learn a new industry.  I’m sure there will be plenty of challenges along the way, as well as plenty of adjustments.  But that’s part of the fun of it.  I’m ready for the change!