Skip to content

Before You Start Business School: How To Leave Your Job Gracefully

You’re an admitted MBA student.

You got accepted into a top MBA program. 

Maybe you’ve even sent in your deposit.

You’re starting to look at housing, talk to other students in Facebook groups, and brush up on your Excel modules.

You’ve still got one big hurdle ahead…

You need to tell your boss that you’re leaving to get an MBA.

before you start business school

It’s so important to remain on good terms with all of your professional connections, and especially with current and former supervisors.

Even as you plan for your upcoming MBA experience, you need to make a plan for gracefully wrapping up your current job experience, before you start business school.

If your boss did not know you were applying to business school, you will need to make a plan for sharing your decision.

If your boss already knew about your MBA plans – or even served as one of your MBA recommenders – your job is a bit easier.

However, you will still need to inform him or her of your decision and pave the way for a strong relationship in the future.

In such a transitional period, carelessness can be very damaging.

This post will give you several strategies for making the transition seamless, and for preserving professional relationships that could be very helpful during and after your MBA degree. 

Build A Strong Transition Plan 

You certainly need to have a meeting with your boss about your upcoming move.

Before you do so, however, you should begin developing a transition plan.

Your boss will appreciate that you spent time and effort developing suggestions to make the transition easier on them and on the company.

A strong transition plan could include:

Projects that you will prioritize before you leave

Look at the projects you are currently involved in and determine which should take priority before your departure.

Strategies for transitioning clients

You have likely worked with your clients for a while and know them well.

Think about how you can help your company smoothly transfer client responsibilities while maintain strong relationships.

 Needs a new hire could fill

Think about how your position could grow or change strategically with a new hire.

Assistance training a new hire

You could offer to help train your replacement for a week or two, or to participate in the search process if your boss would prefer it.

 Put time and thought into developing these suggestions, keeping in mind both high-level strategic goals and the day-to-day responsibilities of your position.

Determine a Timeline

 As you prepare to tell your boss about your MBA plans, you need to decide on a timeline for your transition.

When developing that timeline, you should balance these two questions:

How much time would you like to have off before business school?

Most admitted MBA students take at least several weeks off between work and business school.

This transition time can be very important to your success in business school, as you can begin preparing for the responsibilities that lie ahead.

Think about what you need to do before business school.

Are you taking any preparatory classes?

Would you like to begin networking and doing informational interviews?

Would you like to plan a vacation with friends or family?

When will you need to move to your new city?

How much time do you need to finish your work well?

While you certainly want to allow yourself enough time to prepare for your MBA experience, you also want to finish your current job well.

It is important to wrap up the major projects that you are working and not rush clients or coworkers into a hasty transition.

What is needed to complete your major projects?

Which projects can be completed before you leave?

How much time will you need to bring new employees onto a project?

Answering these questions will help you to determine the exact end date that you would like to propose to your boss. And, you will have concrete reasons to justify that particular end date and show how you will complete your work in that time.


Have a Candid Conversation

You have a well-thought-out transition plan.

You have a concrete timeline for your transition.

Now it’s time to tell your boss.

Your prep work will help to make the meeting less nerve-wracking, and more positive.

Reach out to your boss to schedule a meeting, and make sure to find a time where they will be able to give you’re their full attention.

You don’t want to share your plans right in the middle of a busy project or right after a series of big meetings.

Once in the meeting, begin by expressing your appreciation for the opportunities the job has afforded you, as well as their help with the MBA application process, if applicable.

Then, share the news of your MBA admissions, as well as a few reasons behind your choice of MBA program.

After that, you can share the specific suggestions that you have developed for your transition.

Do so with an open mind.

Your boss might have different suggestions or plans, and you should be willing to listen as well as talk.

You should leave the meeting with a set end date for your job, as well as concrete plans for finishing your responsibilities.

You should also discuss how your boss would like to inform the rest of your department and company. 

Keep Communication Open


It can be tempting to “check out” of your job and focus on your upcoming MBA experience.

However, it is so important that you remain responsive and communicative with coworkers and clients in the final weeks of your job.

Reach out to coworkers or clients that you have worked with significantly to express your appreciation and ask how you can help them before you leave.

In your final few days, make sure that coworkers and clients have your contact information, and let them know that you would like to stay in touch.

After you leave, make it a priority to keep in touch with your boss and with other key contacts.

Plan to check in via email at some point during your first semester, to share your progress in the MBA program.

Think about how your boss can be a resource as you recruit for MBA internships and post-MBA jobs.

Facilitate connections between other MBA students and useful contacts at your company. When you are back in town, plan to reconnect with your boss for a quick coffee or lunch.

All of these efforts require minimal time, but will add up to a significant and sustained professional relationship.

The MBA degree is founded on relationship building. You will need to build strong relationships with your classmates, with your professors, and with MBA recruiters.

The lessons that you learn from this transition will help you to build those relationships – and maintain your current ones – with ease.



 Leaving a job is never easy, even if you have a great reason.

Hopefully, you like and respect your boss and will be able to approach the transition with generosity and goodwill.

Even if you do not like your boss all that much, you should make every effort to remain positive and helpful.

No good will come from damaging the relationship, and a lot of harm could come from it.

Focus on creating a tangible transition plan that will be helpful to your boss and help you to leave a positive legacy at your company.

Leave a Comment