I just left my job of two and a half years for graduate school. This job wasn’t a great fit for me, but it was good experience in a professional environment. I was very fortunate to find this job in a cool college town that offered great benefits, and leaving wasn’t an easy decision. I spent a lot of time discerning whether this was a choice that would positively impact my goals, or if I was just doing it because I didn’t enjoy my job and was falling for “follow your dreams” nonsense.
After several months of thought, I realized that I really did want to pursue a new career, and I told my boss that I would be leaving the company soon. In hindsight, though, I feel I got about everything I could of out of my time at this company, but I didn’t consider everything I would be losing when I left my job.
My job had a “donation bank” for paid time off, so I thought I’d just do that and help out a coworker (most likely a new mom). But my request was denied because it wasn’t the end of my fiscal year, and I decided to go to grad school and quit my job too late to use it all myself. My company also didn’t payout for unused PTO when you quit. It was incredibly frustrating to be told that I couldn’t help out a coworker who just had a child prematurely, and I’m still annoyed that I didn’t manage that time more wisely.
2. About $3,000
I wasn’t fully vested in my 401(k), so I had to give back about $3000, which was not ideal. This money would’ve grown to a much larger sum by the time I hit retirement age, so I’m actually missing out on much more that that. Luckily, I knew this was coming, so it wasn’t a rude surprise when I set up my rollover account.
3. Perks I didn’t use
I worked in one of those faux-start up offices where everyone basically wears pajamas every day and there are free snacks and fancy coffee in the kitchen. I didn’t take advantage of this that often, as caffeine doesn’t agree with me, but it was nice to have around. They also had massages, but I hate being touched by strangers, so I won’t miss that at all.
4. My gym membership (a perk I did use)
I’m not athletic, but I like swimming, and my old job gave me access to the dreamiest indoor pool in town. Have you ever watched it snow while swimming? It’s incredibly relaxing and decadant, and I miss it. Luckily, I’ll have access to a university gym, so I won’t be missing out altogether here. And I can always use YouTube to find a free yoga or pilates session.
5. My colleagues
Although I didn’t become best friends with my colleagues, they were a great group of people. I’m especially grateful to have had excellent managers the entire time I worked at my company, even when the company’s overall management technique was a little scattered.
6. Health insurance
I knew I would lose my health insurance when I left my job, but I was shocked to realize that there was no leeway at all, and I would be out of luck as soon as I left the building on my last day. Moving and starting school also made me incredibly anxious just as I was losing my healthcare coverage. I made sure to visit the optometrist, dentist, and regular doctor for check-ups in the month before my insurance ran out. I’m using Cobra coverage to get me through until my university health insurance kicks in, but it’s frustrating that the American healthcare system has so little mercy and that coverage is only related to your work.
7. Listening to podcasts all day
My former job was mostly comprised of reviewing documents, which I would prefer to do in silence. However, I was in the same office as some of our sales staff, so it was usually pretty noisy. I attempted to carve out a space suitable for work by filling my days with music and podcasts. While I could theoretically continue this, I doubt my hopefully-soon-to-appear part-time job will be as accommodating of my My Brother, My Brother, and Me addiction.
8. An over-the-top Christmas party
Every December, my former company throws a huge Christmas party to make up for the tedium of our day-to-day work. It’s absolutely ridiculous and overwhelming, with local vendors providing the food and fancy semi-famous people providing the entertainment. There are photo booths and door prizes and unlimited booze. Last year, I ate my weight in soft pretzels before filling my pockets and purse with sweets and skipping out.
Leaving a full-time job is a huge life change. I went from having an idea of what every single day would look like until I retire back into the unknown. I love routine, and destroying mine is a risk that was difficult to take, even though the routine was not ideal. Losing predictability is terrifying but joyful as I take steps closer to who I’d like to be for the rest of my life.
Chelsea is a twenty-something studying English in Eastern Germany. She loves hot chocolate, Star Wars, and living a slow life. You can follow her on Instagram @ceburris and read more of her writing at apracticalpixie.wordpress.com.
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