On quitting.

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Emily Brown is a Career Services intern and a graduate student in Northeastern’s College Student Development and Counseling Program. She is a lifelong Bostonian interested in the integration of social media into the professional realm.  Contact her at e.brown@neu.edu.

Quitting. We’ve all done it. Whether it was that youth soccer team or student government, we’ve all made that decision not to continue with a certain activity or group. It was easy enough right? Just don’t sign up the next go around. But what about quitting your first job? You can’t just opt out on January first. Thanks, but no thanks, I won’t be returning this year. There has to be careful planning – where will I work instead? Can I schedule interviews during my lunch break? When do I tell my boss? HOW do I tell my boss? What do I do and say on my last day? Just like the first day on a new job, leaving a job can be anxiety-ridden. If an interview is like a first date, leaving a job is the break-up – “it’s not you, it’s me… we just want different things… it’s a great place to work, just not great for me anymore.” Like break-ups in one’s personal life, quitting a job is unavoidable in one’s professional life. So how do you ensure that you keep it professional and “stay friends” (aka leave on good terms)?

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  1. Timing – Two weeks’ notice. It’s the right thing to do. If the company policy requests more than two weeks notice, then adhere to that.
  2. Transition – Someone else is going to have to do your job when you’re gone right? Whether it’s a new employee or a coworker, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to take on your tasks. This might mean training the new employee, scheduling meetings to discuss projects with coworkers, making LISTS. Everyone loves a list.
  3. Last day – Don’t just beeline out the door at 5:00. Say goodbye to your boss and coworkers and thank them for the experience. You could send a group email to coworkers with your personal contact information if you want to stay in touch.
  4. Trash talk – Just don’t do it. The world is small and negative comments could easily get back to former boss or coworkers. If your new employer hears your negativity, he or she might think you’re immature or ungrateful.

So, no, quitting a job is not as simple as quitting girl scouts, but if done in a professional manner, it is not a negative experience. Keep in mind that everyone likely has to do it at some point in their career, so your boss will understand what you are experiencing and hopefully be supportive of your decision.

Emily Brown is a Career Services intern and a graduate student in Northeastern’s College Student Development and Counseling Program. She is a lifelong Bostonian interested in the integration of social media into the professional realm.  Contact her at e.brown@neu.edu.

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