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Joe Protopapa

How to Tell Your Employer You are Leaving to Pursue an MBA

by Joe Protopapa Thursday, April 30, 2015

Breaking the news to your current employer that you are leaving your job to pursue an MBA can be a very delicate matter. Regardless of what stage of the admissions process you are in, you will want to be careful about how you approach your current employer and supervisor about the situation. Whether you are a prospective student wondering if you should involve your employer in the application process as a potential reference, an accepted student who needs to tell her employer she will be leaving her position shortly to go back to school, or an admitted student who is concerned about “burning bridges” with her current employer, it won’t be easy! As Abena Afriyie, a second-year student in the Center for Brand and Product Management points out, “At the end of the day, the people in your current organization are a part of your network and you want to ensure you don't leave a negative impression as you plan to exit the organization.”

Here are some helpful guidelines for navigating this potentially tenuous situation:

  1. Be discreet, especially if you have yet to be accepted into an MBA program or you are still undecided about whether or not you will pursue an MBA.
  2. If you have a trusted colleague or mentor at your company who has been in a similar situation in the past, ask them for advice. He or she is attuned to the company culture and have had to make a similar decision.
  3. Once your decision is made, discuss it with your supervisor. Approach the situation professionally: ask for a one-on-one meeting to discuss how you’ve grown while working with the company, your career goals, and how your decision to pursue an MBA will help you reach your goals.
  4. Be genuine, respectful, honest, and tactful about your intentions and acknowledge all the company has done for you to help you grow and bring you closer to reaching your goals. If there is a large time gap between when you discuss your decision with your supervisor and when you leave the company, being gracious and genuine will make your remaining time with the company smoother and easier to manage.
  5. During the time after your decision has been communicated but before your last day at work, follow through on all work responsibilities and tasks. Stay committed to your employer and job even though you are leaving the company. Reassure your supervisor of your intention to follow through on all your work and offer to work with them to develop an exit strategy so that your knowledge and responsibilities can be transferred to others within the company prior to your departure.
  6. Thank your employer and supervisor at the end of your tenure with the company, and keep the lines of communication open as you move onto your MBA program.

Whatever your situation, following these guidelines can make the transition from your employer to your pursuit of an MBA smooth and without regret!