Have you tried to career pivot? My story of a pivot to chocolate, that went wrong

I've tried many, many career pivots, from dumpling food truck maker in the UK, to writer in Australia, to software engineering in Texas. Some have definitely been more fun than others. What have you tried OR what are you considering?

Here's what happened when I thought I'd leave tech and become a chocolatier (hint: it didn't go well!)


I like chocolate an unhealthy amount. Me and chocolate during university? I’d buy those Symphony family-sized chocolate bars OR a full bag of Hershey’s kisses and go to town while I read my Victorian novels (English major over here). Again, it wasn’t healthy but, my love for chocolate? As deep as the ocean.

So naturally I thought HEY. Everyone is talking about passion. Find your passion. Go after your passion. Live your passion. This message was plastered everywhere, in sweeping italics with beautiful, always productive people smiling while they made 💵 doing what they loved.

And you know what I loved? Chocolate 🍫.

And I thought okay, this is what I’m passionate about. A delectable treat made out of cocoa beans.

At the time I was living in Austin, Texas working as a software engineer for a startup. I was going on my second year in tech and spent my time debugging features from a beanbag. All in all? Life was pretty good. But it still felt like something was missing.

So, what did I do next?

I went to Google and searched the words chocolate shops.

And I came across one built by a lawyer turned confectioner, Maggie Louise Confections. Featured in Oprah’s Favorite Things! Boy, this was promising.

And the chocolates? A work of art 🧑‍🎨.

BUT. It was the HARDEST WORK OF MY LIFE. I spent hours upon hours cleaning customized chocolate molds shaped like cockroaches (the client was a landscaping company) with a teensy, tiny cotton bud (water and soap would have been damaging). It was not like Willy Wonka and I was not whimsically throwing orange zest and coconut flakes into concoctions while people yelled “Bravo!!” Not even the employee benefit of eating the broken chocolates could get me through.

I lasted 2 days.

So, this is not a tale of how I landed my dream career.

But, it is a tale of how to go after something and be okay with it not working out.

It’s about trying something. And then regrouping. And then trying again.

And you know what? Each and every time gets you and me a little closer to what we really want.

What is something you want to try now that’s at-your-fingertips?

I feel better after reading your post. I am an entry level professional who likes analyzing data. I currently work in a data team, which is a part of my dream career. I’m roughly 2 1/2 months into my job, and the working environment is hostile. On the second day of my job, I didn’t complete an assignment in under 5 minutes, because I took the time to learn about the team’s data. Just couple of days ago, someone shared with my boss that I was playing games on Microsoft Teams. My boss sent me an email that said to not play games on Teams. All of this happened while I was heads down working to generate a customer satisfaction report. I sent out the email containing the report and cc’d my boss. After that, I saw the email and couldn’t believe my eyes. I was furious. I did my very best to resolve quickly in a professional manner. This is a case where I’ve ended up in a job that is not working. I remembered someone told me that life will always be about getting back up. Tripping and falling are inevitable. What matters is that you get back up and try again. I’m improving one of my personal projects (yes still data) and taking a data analytics course to keep developing my skills. I’m still working at my current job. My goal for my job at this point is to simply do my best to get work done and go home. No small talks. Just “hi”, “here’s what I have”, “here’s my question”, “I understand”, and “bye”.
@gregoria40, I'm so glad my story made you feel better! That was my hope, because we've all been there and had setbacks.Congrats on knowing what you want and taking the steps to get there! Working with data sounds like something you really enjoy, despite all the external noise surround it. Unsolicited advice - I'd focus on what you can control, how much you can learn (growth opportunities) and what you want the next step to be.Rooting for you!Sarah