📹 VIDEO: WRTV spotlights Alisyn Caudle

In her mid-30s, Alisyn Caudle took a bold step by pivoting from a career in baking to entering the predominantly male heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) field. The move reflects a broader trend, accelerated by the pandemic, where many reconsidered their professional paths in 2021. According to a survey by Prudential Financial, one in five Americans has changed careers since the pandemic began, with many seeking greater satisfaction and better compensation.

Caudle, now an HVAC student at Ivy Tech Indianapolis, shared her journey of embracing the challenging yet rewarding world of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. 

 “I decided I didn’t want baking to be my main job, because there weren’t any bigger job opportunities that paid that well. So, I decided to make baking my side gig and switched to the maintenance department at Kroger. I was like, ‘Well, I didn’t know I’d be doing this in my 30s, but alright, here we go! Time to learn a trade,” Caudle said.  

Caudle says she quickly realized she really didn’t know anything about the HVAC field and began to get overwhelmed with everything. So, she sought out help. 

"I always told myself, after the first time, ‘I’m not going back to school,’” Caudle, who first graduated from Ivy Tech Indianapolis with her baking and pastry degree years ago, started. “I quickly realized, though, I was like, ‘Nope. I have to go back to school,’” Caudle laughed. “I realized I needed a baseline to build off of and more than just on-the-job training because some things just weren’t clicking for me.” 

Her decision was influenced by a supportive workplace that offers a tuition reimbursement program, making her return to Ivy Tech a strategic move to upskill herself.

Caudle has found the HVAC program at Ivy Tech to be a nurturing and well-structured environment tailored to the diverse needs of its students. She appreciates the readily available resources and personalized guidance, noting that the teachers and staff are always willing to assist. As she progresses through the program, she values the practical insights that complement her hands-on learning style.

“I appreciate learning the electrical side of things because it allows me to be more knowledgeable and safer on the job. The HVAC program focuses more on residential HVAC, which is nice because I work in commercial HVAC, so I’m learning about both sides of the field. Making me even more versatile,” Caudle said. 

Caudle also appreciates her role models in the industry, such as her dad, who worked in residential HVAC, and her brother, who does more commercial HVAC. 

“Yeah, so I was basically like if my brother can do it, I can definitely do this,” Caudle said jokingly.

Caudle's journey into HVAC is not just about personal growth but also about breaking stereotypes. As one of the few women in a male-dominated field, she finds motivation in disproving doubts about her capabilities. 

"I like that wow factor. People are surprised when they see a female working in this field and doing well at it,” Caudle said, chuckling. “But I haven’t had any major challenges being a woman in the field. I have a really good support system, my co-workers are supportive, and I have great backup,” she continued, saying that although their been minor push back or issues with her being a female in the HVAC industry, overall it’s been a positive career change. “I want other women to not fear going into a male-dominated field and have a more open mind to the possibilities.”

Juggling full-time work, night classes, and a blended family of five children, Caudle acknowledges the difficulties and occasional self-doubt. However, her narrative is predominantly one of optimism and empowerment. Her advice to those considering a career shift is clear: “If you have any doubt, keep pushing forward. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, because with enough hard work, you can achieve anything.”

Her advice to women thinking of studying a trade is to “do it!”

“There is a lot of money to be made. There are a lot of opportunities,” Caudle started. “It is a physically dirty job. But the reward is worth it. I think it’s very important to have more females in the field – and not just behind the counter at a part shop – because I think there are a lot of women who think they can’t do it, and I always say, ‘oh, no, you totally can. You got this.”

As Caudle nears the completion of the HVAC program, with just two classes and a capstone left, her aspirations are straightforward: to advance in her field and secure a better financial future. Her advice underscores an important message for women and anyone considering a pivot in their careers — it's never too late to pursue a passion or change direction.

Caudle's story is a powerful testament to the possibilities that await those brave enough to follow their curiosity and challenge the status quo, making her an inspiring figure for current and prospective students at Ivy Tech Community College.

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About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.