As I announced on here a few weeks ago, I’m starting a new position at my nonprofit soon (August 29). I’m super psyched to finally be getting paid more than the meager stipend I get now. But I’m also pumped for my 2 week break before I officially start my job! I’m camping in NH and ME for the first week, then hitting the beach in Cancun for the second half. It’s not vacation time, so it’s unpaid leave, but I don’t mind that at all. Here’s why it works out so well:
I’ll save my valuable vacation time. I only get 15 total days of *paid* vacation per year, and this is the only time off that I’m allowed. I’m very stingy with those 15 days. I don’t take them off for just anything, and I’ll go months without using a vaca day if there’s not a good reason to use this time off. But I’ve gotten around the 15 day max by taking an unpaid leave while I change positions. Now, I’ll have a total of 25 days off this year, not even counting all the holidays I get, too. Yes, 10 of those 25 days will be unpaid, but time is more important than money to me at this point, so I’ll gladly take the unpaid time.
I’ve been inspired by some great stories of other people doing this, whether it’s been taking the time between jobs or just requesting unpaid time.
One of my co-workers (back in my days of being an engineering intern) took 6 months off from work to sail the Caribbean with his wife on his own boat. I caught up with him afterwards, and he explained the that it was one of the most amazing things he’d done in his entire life. He left his position on leave without the guarantee that he’d have a job when he got back because he was that committed to taking this awesome trip. The company liked him so much that they gave him his position back (although I’m certain he would have much rather still been sailing).
My sister is in a similar position this summer. Ally quit her (awful) job back in May. Instead of searching for a new job right away, she decided to take the summer and travel across the country by bicycle. They’re off having a blast somewhere on the West Coast right now. You can read more about their fun journey on their site Free Wheel Women.
I’m planning a similar escape to Ally’s for myself next summer. These two weeks off this year will be great, but I really want more. My new position is more or less temporary, and I plan to leave in May 2012. After that, the possibilities are limitless as to where I’ll travel. I’ve already thought about buying an around-the-world ticket and stopping in places like New Zealand, Holland, Czech Republic, and Ireland. I’m definitively considering South America, too. I have a ton of frequent flyer miles to work with, which will definitely come in handy.
After this journey, I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do. With my freelance career heating up, perhaps I won’t even come back to the U.S. for months.
I’ve digressed a bit, but my main point is that people that don’t take time off between jobs are really missing out. I’m not saying you have to take half a year off, but at least give yourself a break and take a few weeks. Most new employers will agree to that without a problem. You’ll be saving vacation time, or, if your job doesn’t provide vacation time to start with, you’ll at least have a break before you have to work months on end. If you’re a recent graduate, give yourself a few weeks after graduation to relax a bit and reward yourself for hard work. If money isn’t an issue for you and you’re always wishing you had more time to do what you love, this is really a no-brainer.
Have you taken time off between jobs?
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photo by: jthetzel