Monday, November 11, 2013

Tale of Two Cities

Finally, a bit of time to tell you how this whole adventure begin!

Early 2013 was really hard on me. I could likely say it was one of the hardest times I can remember. There wasn't anything in particular, but there were a number of events that started to pile on my shoulders and my heart.  Studying for my PE exam, the birth of our nephew, and the death of my grandpa made for an emotional roller coaster.

In March the stress built up and I had a week or so when I was fairly depressed. Thinking of my exam would made my heart race, thinking of our nephew and wondering when it'd be our time to become parents made me overwhelmed and thinking of my grandmother alone made my bawl. No matter how I tried, I couldn't seem to find light at the end of the tunnel.

On weekend Ben and I got into a nit-picky little fight. We don't usually fight, it's very very rare. I don't remember what it was about, I think something silly like trying to decide what to do for the night.  Whatever it was, I ended up letting go of the emotions I'd been holding. My eyes welled up with tears and they didn't stop. I sobbed and I couldn't stop. Ben was freaked out.

I've always been such a goal orientated person and while I was happy with our life and proud of what we've achieved, it just seemed that we didn't have a plan for the future and we were just going to keep floating in this la-la land of life. I feared that 10 years would pass and things wouldn't been any different. Ben and I had several deep conversations about what we want for our life and how we could achieve it.

The more we talked, the more we decided that although there is no other city like our deeply loved Chicago, there's also no way we could achieve our goals there: buy a home (not a condo), start a family, and afford to travel. We both  feel strongly that we're not suburbs people and if we were to both to Chicago burbs then we might as well move...and so it came about.

We immediately talked about Denver but also researched other growing, young population cities with outdoor activities and a beer presence.  We thought about Portland, Seattle, and Austin (I even got catalogs from tourist centers), but we kept coming back to Colorado. Since we rent and don't have kids yet, it seemed like now was the perfect time to give this a try.

Ben grew up going to Colorado every summer with his family to visit family friends or to a vacation condo. It's twelve hours from our hometown. It had the beer and physical activities that we wanted and the affordable we need.

The problem was that Ben knew he loved Colorado (and has always said he wanted to move there), but I'd been to Denver briefly in 2011 when we went to Summit County. After learning that my parents were coming to Denver for a week in June, we decided it'd be a good opportunity to come out and scope out the city.

After getting back from Denver in June, both Ben and I were uncertain.  It wasn't what we'd expected...and mainly just that Chicago is SO big, there's so much to it. Denver felt small.  But, the more we talked about it, the more we decided that while we were pretty good about keeping busy and getting out and about in Chicago, a lot of what we liked, restaurants/bars/breweries, was still in Denver and we decided to pursue a move.

At this point in June, I hadn't touched my resume prior to graduating college, so I spent a lot of time working with words. We'd decided that I should wait until I got my test results for me to start applying to jobs to decide what kind of salary I wanted...but one night, I was so bored that I ended up putting in an application to a random job posting.  The next day I was in Target after working and got a phone call! A recruiter was calling about the ONE application I'd put in.  Long story short, I did several rounds of phone interviews and even "homework problems" with the company. It came down to a final interview via Skype and I had a lot of reservations. Was the company a good fit? Were we ready to leave Chicago in July? Etc.  I ended up not getting the offer and I was relieved.

After that I spent a lot of time on websites like Indeed, Linked In, and Monster. I got a lot of false leads and unreturned calls.  During this time, the more I job searched, the more I wanted it and the less happy I was at work.  It was extremely frustrating.  After coming to Colorado in July, we were reinvigorated.  I started to try to pay closer attention to contacts and search for opportunities. A friend in a professional society recommended I attended a regional conference in CO in September. Remember that weekend I unplugged? Yea, we actually spent 4 days in CO at a family friend's condo. Ben worked remotely while I networked.

They say when it rains, it pours.  I left the conference with a few hopeful possibilities and a lot of contacts who promised to keep their ears open for me...I should rewind a little bit here. I occasionally post on an online money message board and have come to "know" a few of the posters. When I started my job search, a female engineer "friend" from this board had offered to search for engineering contacts for me.  She literally posted on her Facebook "is anyone looking for a Mechanical Engineer?" and she'd had a friend contact her.  I called this contact in May and after a casual call we'd decided there were no opportunities for me at the moment, but if I found myself moving to CO I should get in touch.

When we booked June Denver trip, I called and asked if he could meet for coffee and I did the same thing in July. Neither trip panned out, but keeping contact did.  Mid September I randomly received an email from this contact saying that a job opportunity had developed and he wondered if I'd want to interview the next day.  I was flabbergasted and said yes. The interview was conducted via FaceTime and went well. I didn't hear anything for a week and then was asked for a second interview via FaceTime.  It was the weekend that I drove to Indianapolis for MT's bachelorette so I did the interview in my car parked in a random parking lot.  I felt the interview had gone well when the interview said "I only have one more question and it's a serious one; you're not driving right now, are you?". Before I had a chance to answer, the second interviewer said "No way! I imagine you're parked at McDonalds", to which I looked out the window and then responded "actually, it's Taco Bell" and everyone laughed.

About 10 days went by and I didn't hear anything. I didn't want to push my luck and in the meantime, I'd received a call from one of the companies I'd met at the conference.  We conducted a phone interview for a position two hours outside of Denver in a town that was so small, it barely had internet. I was offered a second interview but after consideration of the less than ideal situation, I turned down the interview. I was then asked to come out to Denver and interview in person for a position that would be based in Denver with the same company.

I was to depart on Friday and just two days before, I received an offer from the first company!  I was still interested in Company #2, so I decided to come out for the interview (this was the weekend I was so stressed I got a massage. Stress literally and physically took over my body).  Knowing that we'd be moving either way, during my free time I changed out some apartments and found a sublet through March in a walkable neighborhood.  We figured this would at least give us a place to move initially, be able to go out easily to explore and give us time to decide if we really want to buy a home right away or at least give us time to find a place to rent when the sublease is up.

I still had a reservation in my gutt about Company #2 and the opportunities, benefits and compensation of Company #1 were very attractive. My decision was made.  The only downfall and struggle for me was that rejecting Company #2 meant leaving the field I'd been in and the field my dad was in; something I'd also known to make him very proud that I followed in his footsteps.  After a heartfelt conversation, both my dad and I agreed that it was okay to make a change and time for a new challenge.

(I know this is SUPER long; it's wrapping up, I promise!)

Now, I haven't told you anything about Ben and his job search and that's because he didn't do one.  When we decided to start the search in June, he was hesitant because he'd only been at his company a few months and really liked it. He searched job postings and saved companies he was interested in, but he thought there was a slim chance he'd be able to work remotely.  After I got my offer, he approached his boss, who thanked him for the early warning and said she didn't see any issues with it but she'd have to run it higher up the company.  After about a week of waiting, he was officially approved!

Giving my two week's notice was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I loved my close knit group of coworkers dearly. I cried when I told my boss and I cried when we told my group the following week. Some of them cried too though.

So now I've tried to catch you up to date. Questions? Comments?! This post has gotten long enough but I'll be back to tell you about the adjustment now that we're here and hopefully find my way back into a schedule of posting. 


  1. Love hearing your story! And I love hearing about other people who took the leap to move to another state to start living the life they need/want.

    Congrats to both of you! (you on the new job and Ben for being able to keep working at the same place but remotely). So exciting!

    How did Oscar do on the "voyage"?

  2. I was hoping you would tell the story of how the move happened! What a great story! I hope 2014 brings you lots of happiness!


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