Early Career

5 Tips for Telling Your Boss You’re Going Back to School

Tell your recommenders first!

Hopefully, you’ve already shared the good news, but if you haven’t told anyone at work yet, make sure to give your recommenders the respect and gratitude they deserve by giving them priority in the list of people you have to tell.

Get a room!

If you work in an environment filled with cubicles, book time in a conference room with your boss. You don’t want your nosy neighbor to hear your entire conversation and share the news with your boss’s boss before the conversation is even over!

Research HR policies.

A leave of absence provides some nice benefits for both you and your past employer. Many leave of absence policies allow you to continue to pay discounted insurance premiums, carry forward your years of service if you return, and keep a door open to a position at your past employer if the internship search isn’t fruitful. Look at it as an option, not a commitment.

In terms of your employer, many organizations will be sad to see you go and will often be willing to extend this courtesy to encourage your future, highly-educated self to return.

Be prepared to answer unexpected questions.

Your education is important and that’s usually easy for others to understand. But, that doesn’t always mean you still won’t get questions. Here are a few that you should prepare to answer (from both your peers and managers): “Are you planning to return to the company/organization?”, “What will your significant other do while you’re going to school?”, “Was there something going on at our organization that is driving your decision to leave?”

Give enough notice.

You need to have a clear deadline for your time at an organization – communicate it early and often so people know when you’re headed off to the next step in your career! And, you might need more time than the standard two weeks. You might be asked to find and train your replacement. You might have to work extra hard to wrap up a big project. In order to keep relationships solid, you want to consider giving your boss enough time to fill your position – at many large companies, two weeks isn’t quite long enough to fill your spot.

Consider the following when thinking about how much notice to give: size of your organization, bureaucracy in hiring practices, level of responsibility in your job, time needed to train a replacement, proprietary data you have access to (often companies with highly confidential data will escort you out with two weeks paid to protect information).

Kiri Katterhenry
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2015
University of Texas – Austin (McCombs School of Business)

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