Job · January 6, 2023

How To Quit Your Job And Go Back To School

How To Quit Your Job And Go Back To School – Christina M. Tepper, in Los Angeles, poses next to street art that says “You’ll be fine.” (Christina M. Tupper)

This article was originally published in an issue of The Cohort magazine for women in digital media. Join the conversation here.

How To Quit Your Job And Go Back To School

How To Quit Your Job And Go Back To School

Christina M. Tapper is an award-winning digital sports and culture editor. In 2018, Folio named her one of its Outstanding Women in Media, praising her as a “changemaker”. She also graduated from the Women’s Leadership Academy in Digital Media in November 2018. He is currently enjoying a self-imposed career break.

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After two and a half years at a top sports media company—and almost a year after I was promoted to a coveted managing editor—I decided to step away from it all.

The decision, as you can imagine, was not easy. There was a lot to love about my job: working with some of the smartest and most creative people in sports media, leading an editorial team of writers and editors responsible for cutting edge innovative storytelling and helping to increase coverage of female athletes. But during the last year at work, I was also very upset: a heavy workload that pushed me with long hours, limited autonomy and lack of support.

Above all, I sought the clarity and resources necessary for my team members to perform at their best—and for me to create a supportive work culture that nurtures talent, experimentation, and ambition. I felt limited and small some days. Burnout seemed imminent.

Ultimately, the choice was to prioritize my best interests in a career field that often prioritizes the needs of women, especially black women. So I gave up on good terms, but most importantly on my own terms.

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Because I took the time and steps to make a decision, I was determined—and ready to rest and reset. Whether you’re anticipating a layoff, considering your family balance, or want to pay for your career break like I did, here are some tips for leaving gracefully.

As I closely monitored my situation at work and monitored how I felt throughout the year, I relied on the 3Ws – Work, Patience and Walk. This is a workplace assessment tool that I developed for myself to assess and manage the many, often drastic, changes in the workplace and the pendulum of emotions that come with them.

Using the 3Ws, I was able to determine within a reasonable amount of time whether I should keep going strong or stop.

How To Quit Your Job And Go Back To School

I was already working a lot when I went into “standby” mode at the end of May 2018. Plan: To give myself six months to wait for additional support and resources for my leadership and determine my next steps. If my requests were not met

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I did a small-scale job search, but deep down I knew that if I had to leave, it wouldn’t be for another job. It will be for rest

Emotional and physical exhaustion was increasing. Meanwhile, I trusted my therapist, who I saw weekly (Monday lunchtimes. I guarded this time heavily on my calendar) to blow off steam and get re-affirmed. He reminded me to take care of myself during this period – to do things that made me happy because it was hard to find at work and to restore the rhythm I had lost. I went for meditation runs, took Beyoncé-inspired dance classes, and enjoyed the company of my friends and family. I also helped found and open a STEAM-focused early college prep school in Trenton, New Jersey.

As the summer wore on, I knew the possibility of quitting smoking was legitimate. I increased the amount I set aside for savings, setting aside an extra 10-15% of each paycheck to create a more stable “passive fund,” as some like to call it.

Saving is the most obvious and critical thing for anyone considering leaving their job, and I took that seriously.

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As someone who was raised by a single mother on Section 8 and food stamps, I understand the privilege of intentionally leaving a job. The bonus I have doesn’t come with a trust fund or an “I’ll just move into my mom’s basement” option if the going gets tough. It was an internal struggle to imagine a life without a safety net, without a paycheck, but I knew the time off would be worth it.

As November approached it became clear that it was time for me to go. Although I was and remain very proud of the body of work my team and I were producing, my job was no longer joyous and my motivation was lacking.

It’s important to know where and who your gifts belong to, and where and with whom they don’t. It can be difficult when we’re all doing, often on autopilot, and hoping for the best. I knew that if I stayed, it would not only hurt me, but my team, who deserve an inspiring leader with passion.

How To Quit Your Job And Go Back To School

Shortly after Thanksgiving, I alerted my boss that I planned to leave at the end of the year. I gave five weeks notice to ensure a smooth transition. He supported my decision and worked with me on the official end date and ensured that my bonus would be paid in 2019 (I got this in writing from him and HR. I don’t play. You shouldn’t.).

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Among the other tactical things on my exit checklist: double-checking PTO payments (I had none. I definitely took my days off). Collect and store work, notes and key contacts; and marking the date that my last paycheck will be credited to my account and the last day insurance benefits will be effective on my personal calendar.

The most difficult part of the process was breaking the news to my team and colleagues – the people who inspired me the most. The people I admired the most, I was careful about this part. News travels quickly among journalists and content creators, so it was important that my team and the colleagues I’m closest to hear the news from me and not through office gossip.

Over the course of two and a half days, in one-on-ones and in group settings, I broke the news and thanked the many people who had done bad things, pushed me, and supported me. The news was met with shock and a few tears – but also a lot of understanding.

I also gave executive leadership candid and constructive feedback about work culture. I am not one to shy away from difficult conversations. I keep it with real people, no matter where you are in the hierarchy – bosses, peers and direct reports. It is important to me not to burn bridges. But trust me, I’m not afraid to light a match.

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January 1 was my last official day. Although I quit my job, I didn’t quit people. I have strong relationships with former bosses, writers, and colleagues with whom I communicate regularly—both IRL and over the phone. They continue to value my feedback and keep me updated on their personal and professional lives. They also make great gifts. I can’t wait for ‘What’s Beyoncé to Do?’ A table plaque, a farewell gift from the ex-boss and his daughter, wherever I go.

After I left, I spent most of January in Los Angeles, enjoying quality time with friends, hiking, and reimagining new ways to feel inspired. Since then, I’ve launched a newsletter for and about Black women who are crafting lives and legacies on their own terms. I worked with an executive coach as part of my selection for the inaugural 50 Women Can Change the World in Journalism program, Take The Lead. I also taught high school writing workshops at the HP Lit Fest and helped start the IWMF Gwen Ifill Teaching Program.

I’m busy, but not as busy as before. I find time to slow down, focus on myself, and sharpen my focus on what I want to do.

How To Quit Your Job And Go Back To School

For my next move, I want to remain in leadership to develop and shape strategy, nurture talent and great ideas, and make the workplace a more inclusive and nurturing environment. Where? I have some ideas, stay tuned.

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We must remind ourselves that career paths are not linear. Zigs and zags are part of the process, whether by our choice or by others. Some of it will make sense, some of it may not.

My therapist often reminds me that it’s okay to lean into uncertainty. It is okay to understand everything. I certainly don’t, but I am confident that the choices I make now will benefit me in the future.

As Tracee Ellis Ross tells us, “Wisdom is choosing now what will make sense later. “I’m learning every day to let the distance between where I am and where I want to be inspire me and not scare me.”

Now, I’m not your job evangelist. I’ve only been here for almost six months

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