Leaving a job to attend business school can be a very exciting yet overwhelming life transition. While you may be looking forward to your future education, building new relationships and exploring new career paths, you may also be experiencing concerns about leaving your current employer.
At McCombs, our full-time MBA students enter the program with an average of five years of work experience, having already learned valuable skills and built strong relationships with employers that will play a vital role in their future job search and career. Before leaving their job, we advise them to take the time to reflect on their experiences and what they’ve learned and achieved. Most importantly, we tell them to think about whom they have gotten to know and who has gotten to know them.
Are you looking to come to business school in the future? If so, you’ll likely find yourself in a similar situation at some point. Take a look at the tips below to ensure that you end on a good note with your company and don’t leave anything valuable behind.
1. Collect important contacts. You will no longer have access to your firm’s internal company directory so make sure you have all of the names, emails and phone numbers of the people you want to stay in touch with. Save org charts or other resources to remind you of people’s titles and roles within the organization. You will be surprised how quickly you forget this information if you no longer have access to it.
2. Save performance reviews and feedback. If allowed, be sure to take with you any performance feedback that you have received during your tenure. This information will become incredibly useful when trying to develop answers to typical interview questions such as “what are your strengths and weaknesses” or “what would your previous employer say about you?” If you do not have any official feedback paperwork, ask your supervisor if he or she is willing to have a final feedback meeting with you and ask them to honestly reflect with you on your work. Take notes. Supervisors are always impressed by employees who seek feedback in order to improve themselves and their work. You might also learn something about yourself that will surprise you and serve as beneficial in your future career.
3. Record your current job description and make a list of your tasks and accomplishments. One of the most difficult things when preparing for a job search is trying to remember all of your roles, responsibilities and achievements from a job that you were in years ago. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by keeping a copy of your job description and making note of your primary tasks, actions and accomplishments. Where did you make the most impact? What were you the most proud of? Be sure to collect any quantifiable results whenever possible. This will not only be helpful when trying to construct your resume bullets but also when answering interview questions or explaining your past work experience to future employers.
4. Ask supervisors for recommendations. It can be awkward to reach out to a previous supervisor to ask for a reference or referral, especially when you haven’t worked with them or even spoken to them in years. Avoid this by asking your supervisor or other teammates if they are willing to serve as a future reference for you, and suggest that they write one for you now while you are still fresh in their mind. They will certainly thank you later. You can also request that they recommend you through LinkedIn (and offer to do the same for them).
5. Send thank you notes. Everybody likes to feel appreciated. Be sure to send thank you notes to the people you have worked with (both colleagues and clients) and make them personal. Don’t be afraid to be nostalgic or even “cheesy”. Thank them for their hard work, support and friendship. Be sure to let them know where you are going and send them your personal email so that you can stay in touch. Try to say “goodbye” in person to as many people as possible and always keep things positive. You will be most remembered for the last impression that you make.