Posted: July 5, 2017

After 5 years of service, Influence Health employees are offered the opportunity for a sabbatical. The primary purpose of the Sabbatical Program is to allow employees time to recharge, rejuvenate, and return to work re-energized. Sabbaticals are planned, strategic job-pauses during which an employee should take time to engage in activities they may not otherwise have the time to do such as travel, volunteer, do research, learn a new skill, or fulfill a lifelong dream before returning to work.

Irish Clark-Savage, QA Engineer, shares about her sabbatical.

1. What do you do at Influence Health and what is your title?

I’m a QA Engineer, which means I verify that the software solutions and services we offer our clients meet their contractual expectations, and demonstrate fixes made resolve reported issues and test new additions to our own products and their party products.

2. Where did you go and why did you choose to go there?

My wife, Gail, and I went to Scotland in 2015. We chose Scotland because both of us have Scottish ancestors. We spent the first two weeks on a tour of Scotland and the Orkneys. The tour kicked off with going to the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh where we saw pipe and drum marching bands from all over the world perform. After the tour ended, Gail and I spent a week going native in Glasgow where we blended in so well tourists asked us for directions.

irish-clark-savage-in-scotland

3. How long did it take to plan the trip?

It took us a year to plan for the trip. At first, we thought we could plan on our own because we had both traveled abroad before. However, we ended up using AAA, as travel to Europe is not as simple now as it was when we were both in our college years.

4. What did your manager say when you asked for the time off?

My managers were absolutely great with my taking the time off. I eased into my sabbatical and worked on short, day-long only tasks. I didn’t feel any pressure about taking time off. They assured me that while I was away, I was not to even think about work and to not check in to see how things were going. This was good, because as it turned out, the international phone we rented while we were in Scotland turned out to be useless.

scotland-castle

5. Share a favorite memory or two from your trip.

We got lost on our way back to the hotel after the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. It was about about 10:30 pm, and both of us were disoriented. It turned out we had been following a crowd going in the opposite direction from our hotel. We happened on a group of “ped-a-cab” drivers, and we asked for a ride back to our hotel. The driver said, “I know a short cut, but it will cost you 20 quid.” I handed him a 20 pound note, and we got in. “Hang on,” he shouted, and off we went. It was like Mr. Toad’s wild ride. We rode up side-walks, around parked taxis, and through an outdoor pub (it was a Friday night). In 20 minutes, we arrived at our hotel. Our tour guide was looking for us. We were the last of our group to return.

6. How did you feel on your first day back in the office?

I planned the last week of my sabbatical so that I would have at least one week back home to recover from the trip to Scotland. We slept in late and pretended that I was on a four-day weekend. I was well rested by the time I returned to work. Catching up with my email took me a couple of days. I eased back into work.

view-in-scotland

7. What would you tell someone worried about being gone/letting go of their projects for that long?

We are a team here at Influence Health. There are others who can take up task and keep projects moving along while you are away. Turn your phone off. Tune out the daily chatter of “got to get this done.” Not once did I have to tell Gail “I’m sorry, I need to get this finished before I can call it quits for the day.” This is your one opportunity to focus on what life is supposed to be all about – living. Take it.

8. Would you do it again? If so, what would you do differently?

Of course, I would do it again. But, I think my retirement will come up first before I reach a second sabbatical. My advice would be to take fewer clothes. We both had to buy a small carry on for the trip back.

9. Anything else you’d like to share about your sabbatical?

We both thought something was amiss when we were called to the United Airlines ticket counter and were asked to show our boarding passes. Gail’s son, Eric, surprised us by upgrading out tickets to first class from New York to Edinburgh and then for the return trip from Edinburgh to New York. It was our 25th anniversary, and he wanted to surprise us.

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