The Reset: Need to take a sabbatical? Here’s how. 

What would your career look like if you were able to take a sanctioned time out? A sabbatical might be the reset you need.

I was a student at Florida A&M University when I first heard the word “sabbatical.” It’d been a while since I’d seen a particular professor, and when I mentioned it, I was told he was on sabbatical. I thought, Huh? You can just leave for a while, get paid, and come back? Must be nice. 

The professor was white. I’d never heard of a Black person taking a sabbatical or an extended period of time away from work, and still keeping their job. Career Equity Consultant Ariane Hunter, who focuses her work on Black women, is hoping to get the secret out: Black people, in a variety of roles, are taking and should be asking to take a sabbatical. 

“When we think about sabbaticals, we often think about it within the context of academia, right? So teachers, tenured professors, things like that,” she said. “What we’re seeing now more is that it is fair game when it comes to the types of industries that are now offering sabbaticals,” said Hunter. 

Hunter says more employers are thinking of ways to attract and retain candidates. As a result, they’re bringing sabbaticals back into their benefits policies and even into job descriptions. 

“We’re seeing them happen across industries from finance to hospitality. So I think it’s about doing your research and seeing what companies do offer that and going from there,” Hunter said. 

If you’re happily in a career and don’t plan on leaving, Hunter encourages you to bring up the conversation and see if a sabbatical is available to you—and know you’re not alone. She’s seeing more Black women, in particular, taking extended leaves. 

“I did notice an uptick in sabbatical away messages this summer, which was really interesting,” said Hunter. “I definitely have seen a rise in us just really taking that time to unplug.”

If you end up taking a sabbatical or have one planned, do me a favor: tell your mentees, your nieces, or even consider making it public. Share how you did it and why. Think about the clueless college kid on campus right now seeing professors who don’t look like her take much-needed months off. Then think about how seeing you head to Ghana for a few months could change the trajectory of that kid’s career. You have more influence than you know. 

The conversation continues on ‘The Reset’ where Hunter shares How to make the case for a sabbatical with your boss. Watch this week’s episode, above.

Letisha Bereola

Letisha Bereola is a life coach who helps ambitious women overcome burnout and reach their career goals so they feel great at work and happy at home. She’s a former Emmy-nominated TV news anchor, Podcast host of AUDACITY and speaker. Learn more:

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