4 Steps to a Less Painful Job Transition

Creating Your Career Path

There are countless reasons why a growing number of people—66% since 2001 (NCES)—are enrolling in graduate school for a master’s degree, and one of the top reasons is to help them make a career shift. Whether looking to make an upward move in your field, or you want to switch to an entirely new industry, an MBA is an invaluable tool for people hoping to make positive changes in their career.

I graduated from the St. Kate’s MBA program in August of 2017. As a member of the Integrated Marketing Communications concentration, a career switch to the marketing field was my primary goal – one that I accomplished within the first two months after graduation! I was elated that I so quickly landed a job in the field I wanted to build a career in, but soon discovered that the company was not a fit for me, and alarm set-in.

It is a scary thing to know that I had to make another job shift so quickly, and I soon learned that I was not alone in this struggle. “Too many smart and capable people end up leaving their jobs not because of the work itself or the compensation plan, but because they were tired of pushing a rock uphill every working day.” (Forbes, 2016) Entering a toxic culture is debilitating, and it can negatively affect an employee’s emotional and physical health. I had to devise a plan on how to make a smart transition, but how?

1. Make the Best of Your Current Situation

Sometimes easier said than done, but I knew I had to put on a brave face and make the best of the toxic situation I was in. I did this by focusing on my work, keeping my clients happy, and absorbing every piece of experience and knowledge I could!

2. Keep Building Connections

I knew I had to find a new workplace, but I did not want the short amount of time I was with my current company to tarnish my resume. I combated this by not formally applying for jobs for the first 6 months, but I was still personally reaching out to recruiters and talking with existing connections about my situation. (Insider secret… one of these connections is the person who ended up giving me a new opportunity!)

3. Prioritize Your Future and Your Well-Being

“Work dissatisfaction can lead to depression… The world is not always kind, so we need to change the factors we can control to bring us life satisfaction.” (Forbes, 2018)

When working in a toxic culture, I began to feel increasing levels of anxiety and depression, and I knew I had to make a change for my health. Even knowing that I had to prioritize my health, I still felt a lot of guilt. I created some incredible bonds with my coworkers and my clients, and leaving them weighed heavily on me. It took me several months to realize that all of them would be absolutely fine when I left!

4. Leave on a Positive Note

When the perfect new job finally arrives—and it will—make sure you leave respectfully and without burning any bridges. When I left my toxic work environment, I had a lot of people telling me I did not owe the company any notice, or that I should truly speak my mind in a negative manner, but I knew it would be best to leave in a tactful manner. I gave three weeks’ notice, I was as helpful as possible in the transition for my clients, and I gave constructive notes in my exit interview on ways I thought they could improve the culture. I walked out with a glowing recommendation, and it felt good to leave knowing that they would take me back if I asked – although I never would.

Leaving a job and finding a new one is among the hardest things professionals must do, and finding a culture where you can flourish is even harder. The best thing you can do is never compromise – know your worth and do not settle when you know you deserve more. Use the knowledge, skills, and confidence you gain through the St. Kate’s MBA program and create the career path that is perfect for you.


Emily Gullickson
Emily graduated with Cohort 4 in August of 2017. She is happily employed by 507 Creative Group as an Account Manager and Business Strategist. When she is not working, she loves to cook, exercise, camp, and spend time at the cabin with her family.