- Gillian Brassil was an editing fellow at Business Insider; her last day was May 22, meaning she had to bid adieu from home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Logistically, preparing to send the laptop back wasn’t too hard – but thinking about how to give a proper thank you and goodbye was much harder.
- She recommends getting as much face time as possible, firing off a personalized Slack message and email to everyone you’ve worked with, and leaving behind your contact information.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
On March 9, I left New York to stay with my parents in Andover, Massachusetts. I was halfway through my fellowship at Business Insider. At the time, I thought I would get to come back to the office to say goodbye.
Today was my last day, and the team I’ve been working with and I are far from seeing each other in person anytime soon.
Adjusting to the work-from-home schedule wasn’t hard (I did a stint of online high school) and my training as a swimmer on Team USA in high school taught me to work efficiently from anywhere – think homework during car rides while changing into a swimsuit.
And the actual offboarding process was fairly simple: Mail back equipment and present yourself well in exit interviews, albeit virtually.
But how do you leave a lasting impression when you can’t drop by your colleague’s desks for a last thank you? Here are three things I did to express my gratitude through the screen.
1. Go to every last virtual meeting that you can — with your camera on
Foto: The author and her assistant editor, Cubby, getting ready for a call. Source: Gillian Brassil
I’m a pretty shy person and don’t normally partake in happy hour hangouts. But this week, I went to everything.
More importantly, I made sure my camera was on and I looked professional.
Letting people see your face a few more times at the end reinforces a good perception of you – assuming you’ve shown commitment and hard work during your fellowship. You can’t go back and undo missing out on social interactions from before, so at least ensure that you make a good-faith effort at the end.
You don’t have to say much, either. Being there and being seen as someone who’s friendly and professional with a positive attitude is key. Dress to impress, smile, and thank your colleagues at the end of every call.
And if you know someone you want to thank won’t be in a meeting, reach out separately and see if they have time for a five-minute Zoom or Google Hangout so you can give a proper thank you and goodbye. They invested all of this time in you, so do your part and invest some time in thanking them face to face(ish).
2. Send a personalized thank-you note to everyone
Foto: The author’s dining room setup. Source: Gillian Brassil
Not everyone has time to hop on a video call in your last few days, so at least send a personalized thank-you message via email or on Slack.
Put time and thought into each message, as every person you worked with had a different relationship and experience with you. Think about all of the unique opportunities you had to grow with them and incorporate that into your goodbye.
For example, this is the gist of a message I sent to the person who edited this article:
Thank you for helping me grow into a better editor. You taught me so much about organizing, framing, and compiling a thorough story with [story or project you worked closely on]; I feel so much more confident in my abilities thanks to you. I wish we could have had longer together!
I’d love to keep in touch and hopefully see you in person once this is all through. I’m going to continue reading what this team puts out and look forward to seeing everything you guys do once I leave. If there’s anything I can ever do for you or the team, or if you ever just want to chat, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [cellphone number] or [email address]. And please let me know what’s the most convenient way to reach you; I would love to hear how you’re doing, even if I’m no longer working here.
I sincerely can’t thank you enough: I’m going to miss working with you. My best to you and your kids through these crazy times!
Something simple that clearly outlines the specific ways they’ve helped you and that you want to keep in touch helps people understand how grateful you were for their time and expertise. Definitely leave your contact information and ask for theirs; doing so shows that you actually intend to talk to them beyond your internship, and not just about work.
After sending individual notes, make sure you leave the best way to reach you in one official group email, too. There’s no such thing as saying “thank you” too many times.
3. Chitchat about life, not work
Foto: The author. Source: Gillian Brassil
In addition to sending thanks, carve out time to talk about non-work-related things over messages and in “virtual” person. Showing that you’re a well-rounded person who’s a joy to talk to will make people want to stay connected with you long term.
It may seem like a silly thing to do over Slack or Hangouts, but talking about your hobbies, what you’re doing for dinner, or your latest Yorkie-soccer-league championship leaves a lasting impression that you’re kind and interesting and care about people as friends – not just coworkers.
So as I say goodbye, hats off to everyone at Business Insider who’s shaped me into a better editor, writer, and person. I can’t drop by your desks, steal avocados with you from the kitchen, or shake your hand on my way out, but I’m sending gratitude, well wishes, and cute pictures of my doggie helping me edit this last story.
(My next stop? Same dining-room office – but now in a fellowship at the New York Times.)