Hopefully acceptance letters are rolling in and your mind has shifted to transitioning from your full time job into business school. If you are going into a full time program, this likely means leaving your job. I experienced this last year when I left a job I loved in Los Angeles to move to Chicago for Booth. Telling my boss about my decision was difficult, but it helped to remain focused on the personal progress I knew I would experience through my MBA. Here are some tips on how to handle the conversation.
Timing: Your boss may already know you are thinking about leaving for business school, especially if they wrote you a rec letter. It is still important, however, to keep them in the loop about your final decision and timeframes. Provide more than enough time for the company to make a transition with your role. I personally don’t think the standard 2 weeks is enough. The earlier the better, really.
Prepare: Plan how you will complete or successfully hand off any open projects. Your intention should be to leave the company happy with you and your work. Present your plans to your boss when you discuss your departure. Even if your boss would like to alter the plans, it shows a level of respect that you have thought this through beforehand. Also consider how you pass off clients to your successor or co-workers. This can be vital in keeping not only the company’s client relationships intact, but also a network for you in the future.
Keep it professional: Craft a professional letter of resignation to make your end date official. This will likely be an email and may even cover the points you discussed in your meeting, but making it official is still helpful. This letter is also a wonderful time to recap your appreciation for the company and leave the door open for a future relationship with the company.
Part-time: If you will be working while you are in school, you need to show your employer why your educational goals will benefit the company as well. Get specific here. Maybe there are certain areas your company has wanted to expand into that you will get a better grasp of in business school. Or show your boss some of the course offerings you are planning to take that could be directly relevant to your work experience. Frame this as a win-win, because it definitely can be!
Good luck with the conversations, and comment below if you have any other “best practices” to share!
Tricia Felice, Forté Fellow
MBA 2014, University of Chicago Booth School of Business