What It's Really Like Quitting Your Job and Relocating

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Back in December 2016, one of my best friends from college, Janise Carmichael, graduated with her Masters in Mental Health Counseling.  The photo above is from her graduation party, where we celebrated her earning her 2nd degree!  We were living about 4 hours apart at the time, and I traveled to celebrate with her, because remember: Celebrating Your Friends Doesn't Dim Your Light

Who would've known, just a year later in December 2017, she would get grown, and move from Western NY all the way to Cali?  I was shocked at first, and honestly a little nervous for her. My friend had secured a good job here on the East coast, and was already doing her thing, so I was't convinced she was making the right move. But you know what, she proved me wrong! 

I am so excited for her to start my new series for Professional Bae.  Each month, I will spotlight a guest blogger who will share her professional experience and offer advice to those of us also navigating the professional space.  I hope you enjoy Janise's story.  It's truly inspirational and real!  


Janise Carmichael, MHC

Janise Carmichael, MHC

I quit my job.

Allow me to rephrase that: I voluntarily resigned from my State government job. Yes, the type of job with good benefits and long term financial security. Then I drove from New York to California. With no employment lined up. Risky, you think? 

A Little about Myself
I am a regular, degular, shmegular girl. Not from the Bronx like my soul sistah Cardi B. I am actually from Syracuse, NY – a snowier, much colder part of New York, where it is probably snowing right now.

I began working in the mental health field after college, earning a living as a therapy aide, and then attending graduate school to become a mental health counselor. I was offered a position to work for the State of New York in mental health administration while I pursued my graduate degree, so I was fully immersed in the behavioral health field on an academic, clinical and administrative level for the last 4 years.

I could have easily continued on the trajectory that I was on.  

Yet, I decided that I was ready for a new adventure – both personal and professional.  

As I reflect on my journey, I’ll also share a few strategies that I have used these past few months, which may be helpful for someone looking to relocate.

Strong Support System
Choose your moral support group wisely. Please do not mistake this group for those who are closest in relation or proximity. Your moral support group should be the ones who are going to remind you why you made the move, and push you to succeed when you find yourself in the McDonald’s drive thru for the third time in one day while contemplating coming back home. 

When I began planning, I only shared my move with family who needed to know and who would provide me with moral support when self doubt would creep into my thoughts. Honestly, some folks were not privy to my move until my travel dates were set in stone (sorry, not sorry). When making a huge transition such as this, just say no to OPA – other people’s anxiety. People will (un)intentionally project their own anxiety and fears, and ain’t nobody got time for that. 

Just say no to OPA – other people’s anxiety.

Financial Planning
Save. Ahead. Of. Time. Prior to my relocation, I spoke with my financial advisor to see where I could cut back on expenses. That meant cutting out all of my millennial luxuries: only one girl’s trip this past summer, fewer visits to the hair salon, and cutting out bottomless mimosas and avocado toast. Your girl really began saving her coins after learning that her cost of living was going to increase by 87%. 

Also, take time to learn where your saved coins will be going when you arrive in your new destination. Some areas I researched were: 

  • Cost of living increase,
  • Average earnings in your field, 
  • Main forms of transportation and cost of local travel, 
  • How much you will need to earn to maintain your current lifestyle 

Websites such as salary.com and Glassdoor can be helpful tools, but Google also comes in handy.

Additionally, know the art of the side hustle. In the name of “these bills need to be paid,” I decided to provide freelance editing services, which also helped me keep my writing skills sharp. Securing some form of income allowed me to take my time searching for positions that I really wanted, instead of choosing a position out of desperation.

Build your Professional Network While Tapping into Your Existing One
Did I mention that my entire professional network was back on the East Coast? I recommend maximizing your network by staying engaged with them, and asking for more than a decent reference. 

  • Create a list of your professional references. Be sure to exchange personal contact information prior to leaving;
  • Ask for what you need. New clients for my side hustle, applying for counseling licensure in California, and resume editing are just the tip of the iceberg of my requests;
  • Keep in touch along your journey. This makes it feel a little less like sending a “hey, big head” text when you ask for assistance. Besides, they’re likely excited to hear about new adventure!   

Then, put yourself out there!  I applied to a company for months to no avail, then went to a career fair, and landed an interview within a week. In person networking is social capital. 

  • Attend networking events listed on Facebook and Eventbrite;
  • Follow companies on LinkedIn and Indeed to receive alerts when recruiters are at career fairs; 
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile updated. A nice recommendation from a colleague can be helpful; 
  • Have your resume, elevator pitch, and confidence ready!

Make Time to Enjoy and Explore Your New Home
This sounds like one of those “well, obviously” points, but it is very easy to get caught up in all of the transitional pieces, that you forget to enjoy your new surroundings. This was essential to my self-care. I found myself so worried about everything, that I had not given myself a chance to go to the beaches, explore neighborhoods I had been dying to see, check out free concerts, or visit museums (with free admission of course). Once I began to enjoy the sights and sounds of my new home, it reminded me why I moved and reassured me that I had made the correct decision. 

Secure the Bag
Four months after arriving in California, I landed my current position as the Associate Director of Development of an expanding multi-clinic system serving South Los Angeles, where I lead the development team.

I get to inform potential new donors of our mission to provide comprehensive healthcare for the working poor, and apply my strategic planning skills as we expand mental health and substance use services for our patients.

My tips for securing the bag are:

  • Ensure the company’s mission and values align with your personal values, 
  • Harness your talents and never stop building your personal brand,
  • Know your worth and articulate what you bring to the table. Then, 
  • Negotiate your salary. 

Had you told me a year ago that I would be living in Los Angeles, pursuing my goals around social justice and increased awareness of mental wellness, I probably would not have believed it. My experience continues to be surreal to me some days.

On That Note…
My route may not be for everyone. I recognize that marriage and children – both of which I want some day – are not factors that I had to consider. Some people tell me that what I have done, is what others look back on and regret not having done.

Other people give me the side eye for giving up stability, and jumping into the unknown. Either way, I made the decision and decided to live with the consequences, whether good or bad. Hopefully I have inspired some along the way.  

For many, the idea of moving to a brand new city is a daydream used to escape an endless winter or the fourth meeting of the day that could have been an email. For some, that daydream dries up like a raisin in the sun. For a few, that daydream becomes a reality.  If you are reading this and ready to turn your dream into reality, let me be the one to tell you that the leap of faith is worthwhile. The alternative may be learning what happens to a dream deferred. 

Take the leap.