Resolutions – Employment/Career

Continuing my recollection of resolutions made at the start of this year, I come to the major subject of employment and career. When I left Chicago, there were some four major items I walked away from. While I would not see family, friends, and the city I love on a daily basis, I was able to return to visit all three every year or more to continue to enjoy them. But my job was different. I could come back to visit colleagues and that has been fun, but I walked away from a good position with excellent mentors, a solid network, and projects I greatly enjoyed.

When I came to Montreal, I had the good fortune of getting a job quickly with a firm that has done fairly interesting work, notably some with Cirque du Soleil. As with any move to a foreign country, I had to overcome a change in normes, a change in work methods, and most importantly a change in language. While I got along very well with my co-workers and my immediate superiors, the chemistry was not very good with the co-owner of the company. I thought about moving elsewhere, but two things held me back. First during the early years, I was obliged to stay there due to my visa situation. But after that was cleared up by becoming a permanent resident, I was still not able to attain my engineering license here in Quebec. During my interview process before coming to the province, it was stated to me that one firm would not be hired me without that license. Given that most aspects of my job were good or decent, I bode my time trusting that I would get my license after the application review process played out. Then I would be free to move on to wherever I chose.

Meanwhile, things slowly worsened for me at the firm. Partly due to some mistakes on my part and partly due to influence by the co-owner. It was a tough time with difficulties on the home front which likely contributed to the increasing difficulties at work. It all came to a head when I received the letter from the licensing board that my application to become a licensed engineer was rejected. For a few months after that I did some soul searching. While it was possible to complete a couple courses to have my application reconsidered, I was really in no shape to take night classes in addition to work and home after the difficulties at home. The whole ordeal left me with a lack of confidence and a lack of drive to continue pursuing engineering. It felt like the door toward becoming an engineer in Quebec had closed.

So my resolution at the beginning of the year (as with most of the other resolutions) was to do something about it. I started to think about switching careers. I have a education in architecture and I could take the licensing test in the states at any time since I have completed the internship process. Unlike engineering, I was told the reciprocity would have been much more straight forward. And I had passed the LEED exam reigniting my interested in sustainability. So around the beginning of the year, I set a course for returning to architecture with a strong focus on green architecture. I concentrated on firms that focused on green design. I attended lectures on green building systems and I started networking with those passionate about sustainability. I had many people say that any firm would someone with my background in engineering in a second. I even went through a handful of interviews. But ultimately I think my lack of a network is what inhibited my chances of getting job in green architecture.

Despite the lack of interest, I pressed on and found a position through an unlikely path. A while back I came in contact with a fellow blogger, Martin Houle, who runs a website dedicated to architecture and design in Montreal, Kollectif. I had been regularly reviewing the architecture job postings on the site when there was a posting from the structural engineering firm where Marty works looking for architects. I sent my CV to Marty curious of what the position entailed. Ultimately it was not really a position I was interested in and they were not interested in me working for them as an architect. They were interested in my engineering abilities. After so many months of having my heart set on returning to architecture, I was very hesitant. But after a couple interviews and learning more about the firm, it was the right combination of factors. A great project, a good team, and a new start.

It has almost been a couple months now and things have been going swimmingly. It has changed my outlook, my drive, and my mood. While it was an odd road to get here (like so many things in my life), everything is so different for just one year ago.


~ by Frank on September 30, 2011.

2 Responses to “Resolutions – Employment/Career”

  1. Glad to hear it!

  2. Thank you, tornwordo.

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