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Leaving a job with class

January 16, 2008

I had my last day at my old job yesterday. Mapgirl, a blog I read regularly, also recently switched jobs. She put together a series of posts on how to leave your job, financial and non-financial aspects. I had planned to do the same, so here are my tips from my last days on the job.


  • Give appropriate notice. Two weeks is minimum, longer if you think you can. I told my boss about a month in advance, and we told the rest of the group about a week later. For your own sanity, don’t tell them TOO soon. I’ve been plotting my move for well over six months, but I didn’t want to end up on a “short timers” list, given crappy assignments and having my work affected by knowledge I was leaving. So I kept my mouth shut for quite some time.
  • Consider timing. I chose to leave in mid-January for several reasons. First, I wanted to be reimbursed for my tuition from the semester ending in December. Second, we have holiday shutdown from December 23rd-January 1st, and I thought being paid for my Christmas break would be nice. Also, bonus are given in December, though I only would have had to stay through the end of the fiscal year to be eligible for it. It isn’t always worth waiting for things like this, but sometimes it is.
  • Stay motivated up until the end. This is much easier said than done! While I met my commitments and did my best to transfer knowledge to my coworkers, I have to admit that I was a little less of an achiever in my last few days. It is hard to ignore that little voice in your head saying “Well, what are they going to do, fire me?”

Staying in Touch

  • Be sure to get any contact information of people who you may later want as references. The boss I had for the majority of my time at the company recently transfered to a new location, and I emailed him and requested a personal email address, in case I need it in the future.
  • Leave your contact information with anyone who might want it. I wrote a quick email to my group thanking them for making my time with my company be pleasurable, and included my gmail address at the end.
  • Say your goodbyes! You likely will not see most of these people again


  • Ensure that your last paycheck will find you, either through direct deposit or however else they do it.
  • Ask about your vacation hours. I believe companies are required by law to pay them out to you, but that may vary state by state. My company said they would include them in my last paycheck. All 10 hours of it, ha. (I use up my vacation as soon as I earn it!) If that isn’t the case, then talk to your boss about the possibility of using most of it before you leave.
  • Check on your 401k. If you have a really small balance, they can require you to take it out of the plan. In most cases, you can leave it there at least for awhile. I plan to roll mine over eventually, just not right away. You my have some funds that require a waiting period to avoid fees.
  • Make sure you know what portion of your retirement is vested. I became fully vested after three years of service. Luckily, the count the start of that from the first date I did my internship. Even though I only have worked there full time 1.5 years, I got to keep the company match. It amounts to about $6000.
  • Your medical plan will likely go through the end of the month. After that, you may need COBRA or other insurance if your new job doesn’t offer insurance on day one. Consider using your insurance, if you already haven’t. I was sure to order contacts (my company pays for $120 if you do a buy-up on the vision plan.) If you have a flex spending account, you also can use it, even if you haven’t contributed it yet. It may be a bit unethical to knowingly do this, but it is legal.

I’ve never left a full time job before. When I left my internships, it was a given that I’d be heading back to school, so there were no explanations needed. I felt a little guilty “abaondoning” my team, especially as we were kind of at a make or break stage of our program. However, my reasons were mostly personal, and I left on good terms.

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