What I Should Have Said During My Exit Interview

Not sure whether this post should really be classified as “Of Happiness”, but it’ll have to do. It’s amazing to me that another year has passed and this past week has brought back a slew of memories for me. By this time last year I had quit my job and was finishing up a last big project before saying goodbye to the first company I worked for since I graduated from college. With yesterday being my one-year anniversary of my last day, it got me thinking about what I’ve accomplished since then, what I’ve learned, and if I would have changed anything about it.

First off, what I’ve accomplished since then. As I’ve touched on in a few posts, I found a new job where I feel like I am contributing to the success of our business, it’s more in line with my passion for fashion, and it feels like where I need to be for right now. I’ve also been able to move forward with my graduate program and have the balance needed to juggle work, school, and my personal life.

Secondly, what I’ve learned. In a few words, I’ve learned that if you’re not doing what you love, you’re wasting your time. Life is a balance of priorities and sometimes you do need to do things that you may not want to, but it should only be temporary until you’re able to feel comfortable and confident to pursue your passions. But being comfortable and confident doesn’t mean that you’ve completely reduced the risk. Without risk, there is no reward.

And finally, what would I change about the whole situation. I don’t regret quitting. I wasn’t happy where I was and with what I was doing. Here comes the fun part. Thinking back, I wish my exit interview would have gone a little differently. I’ve been told that I need to be more open to sharing my opinions and speaking my mind. And I have a blog…makes sense. But in reality, I do tend to shy away from confrontation, sharing opinions that might be unpopular or controversial, and in general, being a negative Nancy about anything. It doesn’t seem like this would be a bad thing, but it is possible to share opinions or thoughts that may be negative, but can also be constructive. Instead of sharing the reasons why I was leaving the company – didn’t feel supported, felt blamed when issues arose even if they weren’t my fault, couldn’t connect what I did everyday with the overall success of the company, working with systems that were developed when I was 7, lack of focus or discussion about growth potential within the company – my exit interview consisted of a conversation about Making a Murderer and how I am from Manitowoc, where the documentary took place. It wasn’t that I brought it up of course (at this point, I hated this conversation), but I wasn’t able to get us back on track.

Exit interviews are awkward. Mine didn’t go at all how I expected it to, but if I could go back, I would have tried to change the outcome. What I would have done was had a few, constructive ideas about how this company could avoid turnover of millennial workers in the future. It’s not that I purposefully left them without any guidance or if they really needed any, I just had no idea what to expect going into it. What types of questions would they ask? What is the format? What type of information is OK to share? This process is important to the HR staff for any company as they should use this information to improve the overall company culture, figure out how they can best support their employees to make them want to stay, and avoid the costs associated with employee turnover.

Looking back, I wish I would have not been so nervous or afraid to tell them what I, as a young professional, needed to feel more fulfilled in my role. This is something I am still struggling with a bit as I am still working out what it is I truly want out of my career, but I knew that where I was is not where I wanted to be for one minute longer.

As I’m moving into my second year at my new company and coming up on my graduation from my master’s program, answering the question of what I want out of my career is still very relevant and important to answer. This is because it’s always evolving. Whether it’s more flexibility, more responsibility, more creativity, I am not sure that I’ll ever be 100% content with where I am because I am looking for ways to grow and improve and build upon my skills and talents.

Here’s to another year, more big changes, and to taking more steps on the pursuit of my dreams.

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