How to Leave a Job you Love

You don’t.  Most people would say.

I still doubt my decision every day and can’t believe what I’m choosing.  Am I being ungrateful?  Do I really think the grass is greener on the other side?  Am I going to miss it and wish I never left?  I think back to that girl who just graduated college and was struggling for months upon months to find a job in Chicago.  I cried when I didn’t get a low paying and probably self loathing job as a receptionist at an immigration law firm but that is how bad I wanted to start my life here.  Eventually I moved on and found other positions but I hated teaching English and I then worked for  a company that I loved but couldn’t stand the management and was constantly applying and seeking out a new opportunity.

Then I found International TEFL Academy in the summer of 2011.  It was everything I ever wanted and dreamed of – helping other people travel and see the world while doing administrative tasks on the back-end (which is absolutely perfect for the introvert and perfectionist in me).  I also met amazing people – management and co-workers included and didn’t hate going to work every day!  The office is warm and colorful and we are allowed to be creative and independent.  I am also appreciated for the work that I do and feel like an asset to the team.  Not to mention, I got to travel to Nicaragua twice and Costa Rica for work!

I had a conversation with a TEFL student at work who was trying to decide if she should take a job in California with another travel company (which sounds like it would have a lot of the great benefits ITA offers) or go teach English in Taiwan, her lifelong dream.  She was asking for my personal advice as she was really torn between stability and potentially an awesome job here in the USA or a year of traveling and a career change in Taiwan.  I heard myself talking about how she will never regret traveling (even if the teaching part wasn’t for her) and this is the best time in her life to follow her dreams and she would regret not doing so more than anything.  How there will be other jobs when she gets back (maybe even better ones after this experience).  After spewing out all of these opinions to her (she ended up getting a job in Taiwan by the way and going!) I realized something.  I needed to take my own advice because what I was telling her is truly what I believe in.

So yes, I will miss International TEFL Academy and really do appreciate my awesome situation there. I also know that I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without that company or without the lessons and skills that I’ve learned there. However, I can’t let that stop me or scare me from pursuing things that I really want in life.

Don’t get me wrong, I talk a big game but I was TERRIFIED to actually put in my notice and make it all real.  I was scouring over the internet looking for good advice but nothing I found really related to my situation.  Most of the information was about people leaving jobs they didn’t like or leaving for another company.  I needed information about how to leave somewhere you loved and how to go about it the right way.  Because I like and respect the people I work with and for, I was even more nervous to disappoint them.  Here is some of the information I was looking for (and didn’t really find) but would have been useful in this situation:

1. Tell your immediate supervisor or manager first.  I was so glad that I let mine be the first to know and I think she really appreciated that as well.  Word spreads faster than you think in the workplace.

2. Giving more that the typical two weeks is appreciated.  I decided to give two months because my team is small and without someone it is difficult.  Everyone seemed very happy that we had time to hire and train someone else and my friends seemed happy that we had plenty of time together!

3. Tell your coworkers in person and tell your close friends first!

4. The time of day and day of the week don’t really matter that much.  I put a lot of stress and emphasis on this because I wanted it to be the perfect moment.  If your company or team values you, it doesn’t really matter when you do it.  Maybe just avoid 9 am on a Monday morning or 5 pm on a Friday evening.  Just make a plan and stick to it.

5. Don’t cry so much!  I bawled like a baby and I wish I would have kept it together better.  I think a few tears are okay especially if you are close with people but I really just let it all go.

6. The logistics of putting in my notice were one of the hardest things for me.  Do I just go back and ask to talk?  Should I schedule a meeting? I decided to just go back to my manager’s office at a specific date and time that I decided the week before, ask to speak, and then close the door.  My husband scheduled a meeting with his boss because that is more normal for them.  I also opened with… “This is really difficult to say so I’m just going to say it.”  There’s really no preferred way but this worked best for me.

All in all, I have come to the conclusion that if this is in fact a good company and these are in fact people that care about you, then this conversation will go as you expect.  If not, then these people don’t support your dreams and aren’t really worth your time and energy anyways.  Thankfully, I work for an amazing place that not only supported, but encouraged my dreams.

Here’s to the past four amazing years:

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