Friday, January 4, 2013

Before You Leave ... Take Advantage of Your University Benefits

If you know that you're planning to leave your grad program or faculty job in the near future, one thing that I'd recommend you do is to think about any good benefits that you get through your position at the university ... and go take advantage of them for the last time (or for the first time!).

Unlike people in the nonacademic world who put in their two weeks' notice at a job (or worse: are fired or laid off without notice), you will most likely have a few months or more where you will know you're leaving but where you haven't officially "left"  yet. Therefore, you will still be able to take advantage of any good benefits or perks you get through your academic position.

And I think that - now that you know you're leaving and you aren't working on academic stuff 24/7 anymore - you should take full advantage of as many of the perks of university life that you possibly can.

all the things

Now, of course, we can't tell you exactly what "things" you should take advantage of. Every university and department is different, and the perks of being a tenured faculty member as opposed to a grad student or an adjunct are vastly different. And you obviously shouldn't do anything unethical or that might get you into trouble. Don't download the entire archives of The American Journal of Basketweaving to post on the internet, and don't ask your department to fund your trip to a conference in six months if you haven't told them you're leaving in three.

But while you're moving through the odd in-between period where you know you're going to be leaving but you aren't gone yet, you should take stock of the various things you have access to as part of the university, and see if there are any that you should take advantage of while you still can.

free puppies

  • Maybe you've met the deductible on your health insurance. It might not be a bad idea to squeeze in a couple of doctor visits or a few extra prescription refills before you switch to a brand new plan with a new deductible (or, gulp -- no insurance at all. See our other articles on covering these necessities here.).

  • Maybe your university offers discounted computer software or upgrades to faculty and students (that can be taken with you when you leave). If so, maybe it's time to take a quick look at what's available to you.

  • Many schools subscribe to e-learning services like Lynda or Skillsoft, which are a great way to learn technical skills (website design, Excel, Photoshop, javascript, social media marketing, etc). A subscription to Lynda costs an individual $250 but might be free to you as a student -- spend your time learning skills you might actually use at a job.

  • If you get free dental cleanings or psychotherapy visits through the university, you might want to get one more before you go. If you've been meaning to download that document that has your great-grandfather's signature on it from through your university's subscription, now's your chance.

  • Has your spouse been wanting to take a class at your university using your tuition discount? Do you keep forgetting to print out a copy of your last publication, just so you have it? Have you been wanting to check out that free kickboxing class at the university gym? Have you always meant to use your student/faculty discount to go to the opera or theater or sporting event or whatever other university events you've always been interested in? Now's the time for season tickets to women's basketball! Have some fun -- really!

  • Don't forget about your institution's Career Services office. They can help you practice interviews, polish your resume, and likely have some inventories and career search resources available for free or at a discount. Check those out now!

Well, now you know you're leaving ... you're not feverishly working toward the next step in your academic career anymore. So now's the time to do that stuff.

Think about the things you have access to, the benefits that are going to be worse at your next job, or the things you've always meant to take advantage of but never did ... and while you're waiting to move onto your next step, do them. Save yourself a little money and/or have a little fun. You deserve it.

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