Ep. 060 – On Changing Jobs

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Some housekeeping items before we get into this episode.

We will be going back to one episode a week starting at episode 61 to focus more time on website improvements and writing. I was fortunate to have a young food science student named Veronica Hislop reach out to me. Working together, we collaborated to make a sort of flavor article series. Check out Flavor Investigator Veronica Hislop dive into the very mysterious world of flavors, which if you are in industry, this might be beneficial for you.


This episode is sponsored by FoodGrads, an interactive platform for the Food & Beverage Industry, which focuses on closing the gap between students/recent graduates and employers. With a broader mission to attract and retain people to a meaningful career in food. From Food Scientists to Farmers, Chefs to Plant Managers, QA Technicians to Dieticians or R&D to Sales, no matter what your passion–there’s something for everyone in Food—and they will help you find it.

Join FoodGrads for support, mentorship and guidance to start your career. You’ll see an amazing new website in Spring 2017. Just go to foodgrads.com


Today we are going to dive into the topic about switching jobs.

We as young people are in a weird situation when the topic of changing jobs pops up. Especially when you have career job and you want to switch to another career job. This is mainly because well, the people who give advice to you about switching jobs lived in a world of pensions and loyalty. Is loyalty dead in the corporate world? I’d say yes, but that’s my opinion.

I’ve helped a couple of friends walk though this transition and they talk about the questions like “people are going to see me as a job hopper” “

The best part is, I’ve done this exact same thing! I switched jobs and so have so many of our guests! Andrea Zeng, Tiffany Lau, Jocelyn Ngo, Kimber Lew to name a few. In fact, the people I mentioned had less than or around 2 years’ experience before they hopped to a different job.

So in this episode, I am going to walk through my experience in switching jobs in a lot more detail than what I’ve done before. Hopefully, I’ll be able to relieve some stress if you’re deciding to jump ship.


My first job was at a granola bar factory. Then it made dog food, then it made fruit bars and then it didn’t. I don’t know what they do now.

In hindsight, the job was really tough but it solidified my work ethic and skill set.

The job paid very well and I learned a ton. With the amount of overtime I was working, I made a lot of money!

But overtime comes at a cost. It usually means no social life, or you’re too tired to do anything.

So why did I leave? A combination of things. For one, the job I applied to while working was my dream job. Something I wanted in college. Also, I really didn’t like waking up at 4:30 am and working 10 hour shifts. I think a big part (in hindsight) was my manager.

Probably the tipping point was when I disobeyed my manager and left on a vacation I had planned. It was just a day, but things didn’t go very well.

When I came back, I was taken into the office with the HR Manager and well, we had a talk. Basically, I was assigned to something called a Performance Improvement Program which is the scariest thing on earth. Basically, you have 30 days of constant monitoring to shape up or get let go.

According to the internet, the chance of actually getting fired from this is high. Some even say it’s a death sentence and you’re just biding time. So I looked for new jobs.

I won’t get into too much detail about this, but I was able to change my mindset about work and became more positive and listened to criticism. Overall, I completed the Pip program and got a bonus. Nice. However, this also showed a giant red flag: that loyalty is dead.

During my exit interview, I deduced that the PIP was basically made to figure out what the heck I was doing at this job. No one really knew my role so I didn’t do much. Once the PIP was in place, they gave me more supervisor duties with none of the credit. And that was red flag number two.

Every time I had a bad day, like managing an entire factory line by myself (even the maintenance program) or clean 100 gallons of hot syrup in a 90 degree room, I looked up jobs and just kept searching.

People were also leaving (or wanted to leave) left and right. Work got increasingly frustrating because people had their heads up their butts. But now I’m just ranting. Red flag number 3

So I hustled a bit harder. I applied to more jobs even out of state and started to volunteer at a local artisan food shop to see if I can potentially start something (I actually sold spices there for a while)

Eventually, I got a call from my current company. However, my first phone interview with my now-current manager went horribly wrong.

So I pioneered the dog biscuit line with like, 2 people. Oh, and if someone went to the dog food line, they couldn’t go back to the granola bar line., that includes Maintenance. So when something goes wrong, maintenance was very hard to reach and convince to go there. And of course, something goes wrong.

Let’s see, I came in at 4:30 am today and my phone interview was at 4pm. I thought I could make it right? Well, murphy’s law sliced through me and I had to stay for 14 hours fixing that line with minimal help.

I had to reschedule the phone interview. Luckily,  my current manager had experience with factory work so he sympathized with me and that might have also been another reason why I got the job. More on that later.

Either way, I wanted to cry that night. It was one of those days that you hated your job and wanted to run away forever. Luckily, I haven’t had one of those days in a long time.

It took about 2 months to filter through the interview process with Isagenix due to a couple of schedule conflicts on both our ends. It felt like years. I was actually in a business trip learning how to make crackers when I got the job offer. My old company was investing heavily in me to lead a new line and sent me to trainings and factory work to become a master of crackers.

So this is the dilemma: the company is investing so heavily in me that means I should stay? It’s a good rational, and a debate I had with my mentors.

The two roads were both very promising when you look at it in a bird’s eye view. I am not sure what was the biggest reason I decided to accept Isagenix. I would be sacrificing a higher pay, and a specialized skill in return for a stable office job and not much traveling (so they say as I’m writing this on a plane in Montreal).

Then I remembered the red flags and how I got that Performance Improvement Plan… as I said before kids, loyalty is dead.

After accepting the job offer, I had to wait 2 weeks back in Phoenix to get all of the paperwork scanned so I was am legitimate person. Being at my old company was brutally slow and I’ve noticed some hostility on the R+D end and the production end building up. Well, just gave me more reason to leave. After a hostile email from the head of R+D, the HR lady wanted to talk to me on how that was inappropriate of her and then I said I was leaving.

There was no counter offer, but my quality manager friend told me she was pretty upset. In fact, there were about 5 people who left in a two month span so the Phoenix plant has started to show its scars.

During the exit interview (where you need to be brutally honest on why the company sucks… which I didn’t do) I really just said that I wanted to develop products and she realized that too. However, we did have a long discussion on my manager (who apparently got fired).

My quality manager best friend congratulated me and so did some other people. The manager I worked under said maybe two words to me, and that was mainly business related. Most of the people who didn’t like me were like this.

And so after that, I bought like, 50 boxes of delicious factory cookies and went to San Luis Obispo for some weird reason.

I started my new job next week and in hindsight, I should have waited longer and enjoyed a nice vacation but I was actually excited to start my job!

I worked in Leclerc for about 1 and a half years and now it’s about 1 and a half years in isagenix. I can tell you this: I have never had a bad day at work working here. If I ever did have a bad day, I think of the worst day at the factory and shrug and smile. The hours are nice, the coworkers are very friendly and the opportunity to advance is a lot easier than in my old job.

I get to create great products and have freedom own hat to develop. I get to travel to conferences, factories, and trainings all over North America to learn how to be a better food scientist. I absolutely love it.

This was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Overall, the biggest source of advice I’ve gotten was from a combination of mentors and my dad. It’s your life, you need to realize that your whole life is NOT about the company. It’s about you.

If you get a job offer to a new company, it’s hard to embrace the change but of everyone I’ve talked to about changing jobs, it’s been worth it.

For me, changing jobs allowed me to have a much better work life balance. I also travel to really cool places and eat really good food while I’m there. The dense amount of experience I got form manufacturing gave me a useful perspective and I was able to use the skills from my previous job to become an awesome product developer.

Will Isagenix drop me? Possibly. There have been instances where I’ve messed up but the great thing about companies like Isagenix is that they have buffer money. But company loyalty still doesn’t mean anything to me. I am very grateful Isagenix has given me the opportunity to grow as a food scientist which is why I am loyal to them but I have to prepare myself. Why do you think I have this podcast?

So after this long story, I hope I can answer some questions in regards to people worrying about jumping ship on your current job. This is exactly the same ordeal I went through so in hope this helps.

Leaving with less than 2 years of experience will ruin my resume

Most HR ladies will say to stay at a company for at least 2 years. I think it’s ideal, but sometimes opportunity needs to be grabbed right away.

Tiffany Lau had the same situation when she worked for Safeway Production. It was brutal! So brutal that she quit and it was the best thing in her life.

Another thing I really want to emphasize is the importance of a tough job. Manufacturing for instance sucks. The hours are long, the people are not the brightest and you barely get free food. In exchange, you make a lot of money and become extremely valuable in the industry if you stick with it.

You should congratulate yourself for sticking with manufacturing for at least 1 year and from what I’ve been seeing, 1 year might be all you need to jump from manufacturing to Research and Development because the skillset in manufacturing is just so valuable in R and D.

So 2 years is nice, but you will know when enough is enough. If that is 1 year or 1 month, then just leave. But be smart about it, and don’t do it often.

I work with a popular person in the industry and he will defame me

We say the food industry is big, but it’s also small. People know people, yes. But that doesn’t really mean anything.

There are many factors for you not to worry about this. There’s the good way, or the bad way.

Overall, it’s really dumb, especially early in your career, to burn bridges.

What I’m saying is that try to leave your company with modesty, take your 2 weeks notice and leave a great impression on everyone. Though leaving my current job after investing maybe $5000 dollars into making me a cracker expert might have been a big F you, I made more friends than enemies in Leclerc. I think.

But when you move companies, you have to look at bigger things. If I moved from being a product developer at a whey protein company to McDonalds corporate, will people really notice who I am?

You are young, at this stage, you should not niche down. Niching down, or focusing on one very specific product (like protein bars) is for consultants and professors. Even if you know someone from that niche, it’s so easy to just hop on to something similar and increase your skill set.

You can also evaluate your brunt bridge on how him as a connection will ruin you or not.

For example, my manger worked in a spring factory. Ok right off the bat, there is a less than 1% chance I will meet him at a corporate health and wellness company.

However this has hurt me in the past as well. After I joined, I asked my old company if they wanted to make our bars. I got some cold answers…

Overall, one person will not ruin your career unless they’re like Alton Brown or something. What I can say is that the best piece of advice I have is to just simply… be better than them.

The company has does so much for me

If you’re asking this question, then you just have to weigh the pros and cons. In most situations, you might actually have the possibility to get a huge step in salary when switching jobs.

There is a huge debate about company loyalty. This is going to sound harsh, but how many years will you put in before it all crumbles down when they fire you, or lay you off, or new management doesn’t like you? Hopefully not long.

Loyalty is important. If your company is sending you to places, or is training you to do something amazing, they are investing a lot in you and does hurt them when you leave. However, the same perspective can work too. If you make the company a million dollars, they can probably drop you because you cost too much.

This is a huge gray area for me, but I hope these drastic scenarios give you some perspective on whether or not you think loyalty is dead.

Should I wait until I don’t have a job to start looking?

No. You are deemed much more valuable when you are employed and your stress level will be a lot less when you apply for jobs while working. My advice for this is to apply for jobs when you have a REALLY BAD day at work.

When I had my bad 14 hour days, I just slumped down, looked at my ugly face when my computer is loading and started typing in food science jobs and went to town.

In most situations, the state of not having money and trying to live will make your job search unsatisfying and potentially desperate. Your chances of ending up in another unsatisfying job is pretty high.

If you get fired, or laid off, or you got so mad, you threw sharp objects at your boss and left, then you are at a different situation.

I would contact your support network (husband or wife, mentor, family, etc) and let them support you emotionally and financially so you can go 100% on finding the next job

If you have none of those worst case scenario? Just send me an email and I’ll see what I can do.

This is a more rhetorical question: What’s better, being in one company for 30 years of 6 companies 5 years each?

This depends on so many things.

Accomplishments and achievements and the ability to transform your company or department will always give you more points than just slapping a year and what you do.

However, I lean more on having working through a diverse array of companies. I think the best example I can give is my current Chief Science Officer. He’s been in several companies but he was able to create a lot of money for the company in the years he’s worked there. In almost 1 billion in value, there’s the reason he’s Chief.

I think if you have the ability to connect the dots between the companies you’ve worked for and see a common thread of success and reproduce it, then you nailed it. It is inevitable that if you plan to climb the corporate ladder, you will be dealing or managing people. Once you realize that people are truly the same in every company (i.e. they just want to feel valued, and know that they matter), then you can make gold.

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