Leaving with Grace & Professionalism

Well, summer is almost over, folks (I know, I know). As one season changes to another, many students are ending summer internships and professionals are closing out seasonal or temporary experiences. Along with change comes the awkwardness of saying goodbye. But – bear with me, as I don’t believe saying goodbye needs to be an uncomfortable experience. After all, closure matters; consider these 4 elements in ending an experience with grace and professionalism:

  1. Try and leave things better than when you started. If you’ve been given a project to complete during your employment, do your best to actually complete it! Your work will stay behind far longer than you, and will be, in part, what you’re remembered for – so always strive to end things well. This can include checking in with your supervisor more regularly as the experience comes to a close, helping to train a replacement, or leaving thorough notes behind for the next individual to take on your projects. Do your best to project thoughtfulness and professionalism.
  1. For seasonal roles, temporary positions, and internships, make sure everyone is aware of your end date. Communication is key. You’ll want to ensure that individuals relying on you for information, projects, and support know when your expected departure date is – and that your supervisor and HR are all in agreement as to when that date actually is. That doesn’t mean you should run around your office yelling, “I’M DONE IN TWO WEEKS!” It does, however, mean that you should show courtesy to others; always confirm these dates and make sure that individuals you’re working closely with know when you’re expected to leave the team. That will help to ensure that you don’t leave anybody hanging who was relying on your support and was unaware of your end date.
  1. Express gratitude. This is important – before you leave, say thank you. This can vary based on office and industry; but it could be a thank you card for an individual who was particularly helpful, a polite email to the HR representative who processed your paperwork, bringing in donuts for the last day at work, or a LinkedIn connection request with colleagues you’d like to stay in contact with. Regardless of the method, gratitude goes a long way – so if mentors, colleagues, and fellow interns were helpful, be sure they know you noticed and appreciate it.
  1. Actually say goodbye! Stop by individuals’ offices and actually say those words – I promise it won’t be as awkward as you’re thinking. And, I don’t recommend waiting until 4:59pm on your last day to make the rounds. If you’re able, have a short conversation with colleagues and mentors. Try and avoid just vanishing on your last day – instead, make sure people get the opportunity to say goodbye to you. This will provide you and them with closure, perhaps even some encouragement or constructive feedback, and will help to ensure that you leave an organization in the most complete terms.

I realize goodbyes can be awkward – but change will always come. We tend to look ahead quite often; perhaps you’re already thinking about returning to campus in the Fall or starting a new position in a few weeks. That said, don’t forget about today. End things well – after all, the impression you leave behind matters.


Image via: https://www.entrepreneur.com/topic/corporate-culture

By Ana Clara Blesso
Ana Clara Blesso Associate Director, Career Coaching & Experiential Learning Ana Clara Blesso