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  1. #1
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    Default Need some advice from "grown-ups." How on earth do I quit my job?

    Hi all, I am in a bit of a pickle and need some advice.

    I am a federal government employee and I have been here for a little over 2 years when I started out as an intern. The work that I do is not realated to my degree, and I never planned on staying long term. Admid the budget debacle, we've been on a hiring freeze since before I was hired on, and I just feel a little guilty about quitting when I know that I cannot be replaced. I haven't told any of my coworkers about my plans to attempt a thru-hike because I haven't figured out how to break the news to my boss that I will be leaving in February.


    I've thought of perhaps asking for a leave of absence for a couple of months, just in case something happens and I have to get off of the trail. Regardless, I am planning on attending graduate school beginning in August/September, and I just don't know how to approach the subject, especially when I'm being handed more responsibilities everyday.

    Does anyone have advice on how they approached their boss about their thru-hike? This is my first "big girl" job and I don't want to ruin the relationships I have built here....

  2. #2
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    No one can fault you for leaving your job to attend Grad school. Takinging a bit of time off to enjoy life a bit before continuing your academic life is reasonable. You run little risk of ruining this relationship if you are completely honest rather, this will likely keep the door open if your long term goals change.

    Good Luck

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    I'm not sure this is the place to look for grown-up advice, but here goes. You do not owe it to any employer to stay forever. Employers (including government agencies) lay people off when business dictates all the time. You should give as much notice as is possible, with an honest explanation if you wish. If you can get a leave of absence, so much the better.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    Hopeful Hiker QHShowoman's Avatar
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    Hiring freeze or not, everyone can be replaced if need be.

    Be sure to give your employer 2-4 weeks notice (so give notice in early January, at the very latest) and while you don't owe them an explanation, you can simply say that you want to take time off to travel before starting grad school in the fall. No employer expects someone right out of college to stay in the same job for more than 2 years, anyway.

    I would discourage you from taking the leave of absence route because you don't want to delay training someone else to take over your responsibilities with the expectation that you're going to return, when you probably won't. Doing so will leave a far worse impression than it would if you just quit outright.
    you left to walk the appalachian trail
    you can feel your heart as smooth as a snail
    the mountains your darlings
    but better to love than have something to scale


    -Girlyman, "Hold It All At Bay"

  5. #5

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    Did you sign an "agreement/acknowledgement" that stated you can be let go at any time without notice or reason?
    "Hiking is as close to God as you can get without going to Church." - BobbyJo Sargent aka milkman Sometimes it's nice to take a long walk in THE FOG.

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    Only a rare employer would provide an employee with several months of notice prior to layoffs and I'd argue that a non management employee is going above and beyond the call of duty if providing say a month notice. Very few managers expect an entry level person to stay forever and understand that when people go back to school. No explanation is owed regarding leaving a few months prior to grad school unless you feel like volunteering information. I wouldn't provide more than a month of notice because there is always a risk that you could be let go on the spot.

    Looking back, there were many missed opportunities for vacation and travel that I chose to forgo due to a perceived duty as an employee. However such attitudes are rarely reciprocated. I recommend being professional and courteous but never sacrificing personal goals out of an exaggerated sense of duty.

  7. #7
    Registered User Ktaadn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QHShowoman View Post
    Hiring freeze or not, everyone can be replaced if need be.

    Be sure to give your employer 2-4 weeks notice (so give notice in early January, at the very latest) and while you don't owe them an explanation, you can simply say that you want to take time off to travel before starting grad school in the fall. No employer expects someone right out of college to stay in the same job for more than 2 years, anyway.

    I would discourage you from taking the leave of absence route because you don't want to delay training someone else to take over your responsibilities with the expectation that you're going to return, when you probably won't. Doing so will leave a far worse impression than it would if you just quit outright.
    I think this is all great advice.

    They key is to be honest and proffesional. Remeber, bosses are people too. They understand that you have to do what is best for you. They would not hesitate to do what is best for them either. Don't lie to anyone and don't burn any bridges and your career will be fine. I have changed jobs within my company a couple of times and I have twice been rehired by an old boss. If you have proven your value, they will happily welcome you back.

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    Registered User ChuckT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by _ciel View Post
    Hi all, I am in a bit of a pickle and need some advice.

    Does anyone have advice on how they approached their boss about their thru-hike? This is my first "big girl" job and I don't want to ruin the relationships I have built here....
    I am not a rolling stone, far from it, 47 years in the same job. I mention this because I think it was less than ideal. The 3, 4, maybe 5 year span in one place is enough.

    How to seperate yourself from your position? (Sidebar: This is not easy too do.) Set aside who you are, who and what your family situation is, and who or what your immedite boss is. When you are ready, and remember you don't have to give more than a 2 - 3 week notice, go talk to the boss as one indivigual to another. Don't let any hierarchy creep in. Just say that you are moving on. You don't even have to say why. To be polite you can expand a bit by saying that you feel you are not being challanged enough in your present position and that a change of enviornment will be of benefit to you personally.

    Telling the boss that you are off to hike the AT may not be what you want to do - what if your plans fall through? Even if the boss has already heard of your plans I think you'd be better served by portraying your plans as a career affirming move not as moving away from something. Above all you want to be seen as making an adult decision. (And you can barf afterward).

    Cvt
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  9. #9
    Registered User coach lou's Avatar
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    Slip out the back, Jack
    Make a new plan, Stan...............................

  10. #10

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    No matter what preparation you do in advance, an AT thru hike is at best a 1 in 10 shot (okay for some who want to quibble a 1.5 in 10 shot). So what will you do for the four months if you are one of the 9 out of 10 who for one reason or another leave the trail? It definitely not a good option to ask for your job back. In theory with an outdoor background you can pick up seasonal work. If you feel grad school is something you want to do to find a more rewarding career rather than a way of "escaping" one you don't want to do the rest of your life than you have your answer. With regards to leaving any job, never burn any bridges and try to spend a bit of time after you have informed the boss with you coworkers but keeping it positive, they still have to work there so be careful not to reinforce the bad things about why you are leaving, keep it positive about what you will be doing. Even though the temptation is to give constructive feedback in an exit interview, I wouldn't as its generally ignored as biased by the fact that you are leaving.

  11. #11
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    I'd want to have the grad school thing nailed down before starting a thru. That means being accepted and confirming that with any required deposit. You'll also want to make sure the grad program has good contact info for you on your hike, in case they need to get in touch (for example, to offer you an assistantship.) Then you can hike with a clear head and a clear schedule.

    As for quitting the job, it's hard to do, especially since it sounds like you enjoy your job and the people you work with. But once the grad school thing is nailed down, it'll be relatively easy to give 4 weeks notice with the simple explanation of "travel before grad school." Really, not a big deal and hardly something that will harm your long term prospects even with the same employer.

    Good luck.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  12. #12

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    this happened to me last year, i posed it as a hypothetical, stressed IF i was going to leave... turned out we have a policy, and if i waited until my 10 yr seniority date, i would be eligible. as the conversation progressed, i got more open with my manager. i have always found that honesty really is the best policy. so now, i have a tentative 2015 thru in the planning stages, with right of return to an equivalent position waiting when i get back.

    i am replaceable, but i'm good at what i do in a field where experience matters, and have a decent relationship with the company.

    all that said, i am 38 yrs old, and have postponed a thru hike pretty much every year since i graduated high school, then served in the USAR, then went to college, then had kids, etc etc etc etc ad nauseum... i am tired of postponing

    YMMV good luck

  13. #13
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    The hiring freeze, you mentioned, is not your responsibility, it is not your responsibility, it is not your responsibility, keep repeating.........

    It is the responsibility of management to hire enough employees to handle the workload.

    I would think that 4 weeks notice would be more than adequate notice. Workplace gossip can make life difficult, so I would share zero information on your hiking plans. No one can fault you for going back to school.

    When you turn your notice in, I would present a typed letter to your manager stating that your leaving to go back to school. Verbalize, in person, keep it brief and to the point; leaving to go to graduate school, spending brief amount of time with family, i value the time i have spent here.

    Exit interviews; there is no upside to an exit interview, for you, or anyone else.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by yaduck9 View Post
    The hiring freeze, you mentioned, is not your responsibility, it is not your responsibility, it is not your responsibility, keep repeating.........

    It is the responsibility of management to hire enough employees to handle the workload.

    I would think that 4 weeks notice would be more than adequate notice. Workplace gossip can make life difficult, so I would share zero information on your hiking plans. No one can fault you for going back to school.

    When you turn your notice in, I would present a typed letter to your manager stating that your leaving to go back to school. Verbalize, in person, keep it brief and to the point; leaving to go to graduate school, spending brief amount of time with family, i value the time i have spent here.

    Exit interviews; there is no upside to an exit interview, for you, or anyone else.
    +1 excellent advise

  15. #15

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    Would your employer feel bad about it if they decided to fire you, furlough you or lay you off? Would it matter to you if they felt bad about it? Would it change anything? Would they give you months of notice if they decided to get rid of you? The most notice I'd give is two weeks. And you are under no obligation to explain yourself or what you're doing...they probably wouldn't get it anyway...just tell them you've decided to take some time off to pursue other things and you're really glad for the opportunities you've had there and hope you can use them as a reference in the future. No need to be a jerk about it but you sure as hell shouldn't feel guilty about doing what you want to do. You say they are giving you new responsibilities all the time, right? Surely there are others in the organization they can give your stuff to when you're gone. They'll shuffle things around and before they know it they will forget you ever worked there.

  16. #16
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    Thanks guys for all the feedback!

    I think I will give about a months notice and have my plans more firmly in place before letting anyone know. I probably will tell them about my hike, just because I believe my coworkers and my boss to be the type of people to offer great support. I'm the youngest in my office and a lot the people I work with have kids my age, so I feel like they would understand.

    I hope there is cake on my last day.

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    My question is how do you plan to pay for your hike and how will you support yourself during grad school?

    If the answer is you have enough money set aside to cover the hike and support yourself while attending school, then the answer is give them fair notice and go hike.

    On the other hand if the answer involves Mom, Dad or moving back into your old room after the hike, then you need to stay with the job until you start school.


    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk

  18. #18
    Hopeful Hiker QHShowoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bfayer View Post

    On the other hand if the answer involves Mom, Dad or moving back into your old room after the hike, then you need to stay with the job until you start school.

    Really, that's none of anyone's business except for the OP.
    you left to walk the appalachian trail
    you can feel your heart as smooth as a snail
    the mountains your darlings
    but better to love than have something to scale


    -Girlyman, "Hold It All At Bay"

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by _ciel View Post
    Thanks guys for all the feedback!

    I think I will give about a months notice and have my plans more firmly in place before letting anyone know. I probably will tell them about my hike, just because I believe my coworkers and my boss to be the type of people to offer great support. I'm the youngest in my office and a lot the people I work with have kids my age, so I feel like they would understand.

    I hope there is cake on my last day.
    I suspect there will be cake.

    The truth is that this life is short. Normally it does not matter that it is short when you are in your twenties, since there (seems to be) so much time ahead of you.

    Read though some threads here. Folks who want to hike, but feel guilty for leaving.... Family, spouse, young children, jobs that they can not get back.... Folks who wanted to hike but had to give it up for injury or illness.

    After grad school the pressure to establish yourself professionally will only be stronger... Especially if you meet someone and are making decisions as part of a couple... Then add children in (as many do) the difficulty becomes exponentially more profound.

    I suspect there will be cake, and more then that great admiration to see someone "going for it". Enjoy your cake, may you have it... And eat it too!

    keep us posted, good luck!
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by _ciel View Post
    Thanks guys for all the feedback!

    I think I will give about a months notice and have my plans more firmly in place before letting anyone know. I probably will tell them about my hike, just because I believe my coworkers and my boss to be the type of people to offer great support. I'm the youngest in my office and a lot the people I work with have kids my age, so I feel like they would understand.

    I hope there is cake on my last day.
    Hi ciel What does your contract require? Most workplaces require 2 weeks notice. I ask because I got screwed over when I tried to be nice by giving a previous employer of mine a months notice before I left to work in South Korea. It was a nonprofit and I thought that since they were people oriented and 'great' as employers they would want more notice and deserved it. I was TOTALLY wrong. Not to say that my experience will be everyone's, but I gave them a months notice and 2 weeks later they said they 'didn't need me anymore' as they were already hiring the next person. I had been relying on that last paycheck and now was cut short 2 weeks. I learned my lesson and like so many here, now would never give advance notice other than what's required not matter how nice or thoughtful I thought the company was.

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