Author Topic: Transition to Freelance  (Read 1039 times)

Sanitary Engineer

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Transition to Freelance
« on: March 04, 2020, 10:37:38 AM »
Hi, I posted this in my journal, but thought I might get additional feedback here. 

I started quitting yesterday.  Well, I told my boss who co-owns the company that I would not be able to succeed and be productive in my position.  She left the door open for me to imagine another position, which she would then consider with the other owners, and asked me to write a summary of our conversation.  I copied the summary below.

I am looking for advice or a sounding board about how this summary reads and reccommendations, opinions, and facepunches.

I don't have FU money, I have convinced myself that I can balance my family on the benefits cliff over the short term (<5 years) by controlling my gross household income to between $45,000-$55,000/year while we have three children in full time daycare and DW's business grows.

"Following our conversation on Tuesday, I wrote up this summary of my thoughts regarding my performance and success since being hired with [Company].
The conclusion I have reached is that I can not envision myself succeeding and being productive in my position.  I need to focus on work I can do well while growing my skill set and surrounding myself with mentors.  We discussed that I think either part time work without benefits or independent contracting for discrete tasks within my skill set would be a role in which I can succeed and be productive.

I can envision potential benefits for both me and the company with a formal part time or contracting agreement.  I would benefit from the company workload and resources while the company would be able to shift work to me without overhead costs.  A formal agreement and continued collaboration could also provide a path back to full time employment if the time was right.  I have included a brainstorm below of tasks in my skill set and skills I would like to develop.

The tasks that are within my skill set are:
   Small Water Systems
    o   PER
    o   Design and Permit applications
    o   Construction inspection/certification
    o   Treatment optimization
    o   O&M creation
    o   Asset Management plan creation
    o   Level 2 Assessments
   Septic design
   Annual wastewater inspections.
   Stormwater system evaluations and inspections.
   Submittal review
   Small job, part time or back up resident observation
   Topographic survey
   Field verification

Skills/Certifications I want to develop to grow my skill set and advance my career are:
   ASCE Drinking Water Treatment Certification course series
   CRM software
   Report Creation and Presentation software
   Drone operation
   Soils Certificate
   Wetlands Identification
   Drinking Water and Wastewater Operator licenses
   Project Management Professional certification
   Financial Planning
   Quality Management
   Topographic Surveying - Id like to pursue the use of LiDAR for base map creation.
   WQA Master Water Specialist."

Miss Piggy

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Re: Transition to Freelance
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2020, 12:33:28 PM »
That is a REEEEEEAAAAAALLLLLLLYYYYYYY long list of new skills you want to develop, presumably on the company's dime, while you've just told them you don't want to work there. What's in it for them to help you build all of those new skills? Can you narrow the list to your top 3-5?

Maybe I'm missing something. From here, it looks like you're frustrated because you're lacking the skills for the work they have asked you to do. Hence, the inability to succeed in the current position. But you're also saying you're lacking a whole bunch more skills that you want to build. So why can't you build new skills in the areas they need you for? Are you just not interested in that other work they've asked you to do? Or have I completely missed the point?

Sanitary Engineer

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Re: Transition to Freelance
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2020, 01:10:12 PM »
Good point on the long list of skills.  I don't want to company to pay for them, so there isn't really a need to include them in this letter.

I came up with this list as what I would want to pursue to maintain my relevance as an engineer over a five year period after quitting my job.  The idea is that I would form a corporation to complete a handful of small jobs related to the skills I have and pay myself a salary that kept my household income on the benefits cliff, while putting any other profit my personal c-corp company earned towards these skill developments. So I would expect my freelance company to pay for the trainings, not the company I currently work for.  The company I work for has already made it clear they are not interested in paying for most of the trainings associated with the skills I want to pursue (or even for trainings required to maintain my professional license).

I think my biggest challenges are staying focused and following through.  At this company, I don't have the support I need to work on those challenges.  I am hoping that I can create that support by curating mentors, changing my work environment, building my skills, focusing on work that I know I can succeed at and reducing the pressure of "billable hours".

Miss Piggy

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Re: Transition to Freelance
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2020, 01:43:32 PM »
Okay, so I did indeed miss the point a bit.

If it's not too late, I think you may want to use this letter as an opportunity to sell yourself as a freelancer/contractor who can still meet a large number of the organization's current needs while still downshifting.

Have you read the book Pivot by Jenny Blake? If not, I highly suggest it, as it is 100% applicable to your situation. I borrowed the audio version from my library's app recently (3 times), and I liked it so much that I HAD to buy it in paperback for future reference.

I'm not an engineer, nor do I play one on TV, so this is a legit question: How realistic is it for you to expect to learn a lot of those wish list items on your own? I fear that you may be setting yourself up for a catch-22 situation--you can't get hired for that newly-learned work without the experience, but you can't get the experience without it being part of a "real job." Hopefully I'm wrong?

Sanitary Engineer

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Re: Transition to Freelance
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2020, 07:41:46 AM »
Thanks for the book recommendation!

Some of the trainings and certifications are simple to achieve and part of my plan to earn professional development hours for my license renewal this July. Some need professional supervision so I could only get if I worked at a treatment plant. And some are 5 year programs that are relatively expensive so would only pursue if the money was available. Some of relates to ideas I have about collaborating with other locals companies. So they would happen if the company was open to training me.


Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!