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Cashing Out and Saying Goodbye

Q. I am a Democrat working for a very progressive Democrat. But after years of public service, I am ready to “cash out.” Although this is something that most staffers eventually do, I am having a difficult time figuring out how to tell my office since I work for such a progressive member. Any advice on how to break the news?

A. Very few people who enter public service do so without ever leaving it for a cushier private sector job — even for just a few years — so I think your office will have handled a staffer leaving for similar reasons before.

But let’s say it hasn’t. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that everyone who has worked for your boss has stayed in government service or left for similarly progressive-minded organizations.

You should frame your departure by telling your office how much you have gained from working there. Emphasize what you have learned about their values and politics and explain that you want to bring that sort of thinking to your new organization. Even if you’re going to work for Big Oil after spending a decade fighting Arctic drilling, your background on the issue will be grounded in the information that your office instilled in you. And they might reap the benefits of having a “friend” in an otherwise contentious organization.

And the phrase “cashing out”? Eliminate that from your vocabulary. Your office doesn’t need to know the details of your new compensation package. Even if they are so brazen to ask, you can simply state that it was a good offer and you’re happy to be taking it. And then go back to reiterating how grateful you are for the experience you have had.