Teacher satisfaction hit an all-time low in 2022, with 44% of educators saying that they’d likely quit and find a different job within the next two years, according to the Merrimack College Teacher Survey. While not all of those respondents will actually follow through with their plans, experts and educators continually warned of a “mass exodus” of teachers throughout 2022.
Maggie Perkins, who went viral on TikTok after leaving the profession, is just one example. After making under $50,000 and working 60-hour weeks for years, the 30-year-old former teacher says she burned out in an interview with Insider.
To cope, she “quiet quit” her job in 2018, automating her grading and working only the number of hours required by her contract. But after two years of that, she officially left her 8-year-long career to work in the membership department at Costco. And she doesn’t regret it one bit.
“I just worked seven days straight, including Christmas Eve, and I feel fine,” Perkins says of her new job in a viral TikTok video. “As a teacher, it was like I was just surviving every moment that, by the time I got to Christmas break, I was so exhausted that I was literally sick.”
@millennialmsfrizz I used to be a teacher and now I work at Costco. This is my first year not having a winter break. I do not miss it at all. My pace of my work life now is so much better, I am not sick or exhausted like I used to be when I was a teacher. When I was a teacher I used my winter break basically to recover and go into the next semester of just surviving. #f#formerteachert#teacherquittokc#costcotiktokr#retailworkere#exteachertiktokc#careertransitiont#teachersonbreak ♬ original sound - Millennial Ms. Frizzle
Perkins adds that she has more energy and "everything is better" now that she works retail instead of teaching.
The former educator's videos have resonated with current Costco employees, teachers, and burned-out workers on TikTok, Reddit, and other corners of the web. Perkins has accumulated more than 85,000 followers on the video platform.
"I used to dissociate so bad after teaching," a viewer says in a comment on TikTok. "I couldn't read a book to wind down for two years. I hate that I couldn't find joy and comfort in my normal hobbies."
In a more recent interview with Fox Business, Perkins explained that she chose Costco partly because of its reputation as an employer.
"We grew up going to Costcos, and so I've always known that Costco employees are treated well and have a high quality of life. So when there was a new Costco being built in my town, I immediately applied," Perkins said.
On top of her new job, Perkins is going to school part-time to pursue a doctorate in language and literacy education.