Almost all of our friends and family thought the idea of taking a sabbatical was insane. Some of my friends laughed at me for even thinking my employer would say yes. I really didn’t think it was that big a deal until everyone else made it a big deal. I was so determined to make this happen, I told myself I would quit if they declined my request.
Of course once I decided this, my company gave me kind-of a promotion. This was an opportunity for a different/better career path and at this point, I wasn’t sure I would be able to walk away if it really came down to it. I decided it was only right to let my boss know that I wanted to request a leave of absence before accepting the opportunity.
Right off the bat, he said he would try to make it work. This was great! His approval was all I needed right? Of course not, that would be too easy. Apparently, because this was such an unusual request with little precedence, I needed to go to HR and then to every important person in the company for approval.
In short, after a lot of discussions and some sacrifices on my part, we made it work. I ended up with both the sabbatical to go to South America and an amazing career opportunity!
I will admit that requesting the time off was a lot harder than I initially thought it would be. But I’m glad it worked out. I’m sure this could be easier for some people (e.g. Marc’s approval from EY was not as difficult to obtain because it is a big company and he’s not the first person to ask) and this could be impossible for others. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but make sure you know exactly what you want and how much you are willing to give up.