I always struggle when it comes to writing in someones leaving card. I'd like to be witty and at the same time show the person that I remembered them and enjoyed working with them. However most of the time something short gets quickly scribbled.
We get a lot of leaving cards in scientific centres. I guess this is due to the contractual nature of much of the work we do, PhD students and Post-docs are all on three to five year contracts. Many grants only carry money for three to five years or even less. This means people do move on quite regularly.
How much to donate to the gift?
Every time a card comes round I also think about the collection. I try hard for my staff to go round the people they have most likely interacted with and worked for and make a shameless effort to get enough in the way of contributions to buy something decent. In my view if everyone gave £1 or £2 then we should get about £100 which buys a nice gift to remember the lab/institute by.
The top ten things written in leaving cards: here is a summary of three leaving cards, not perhaps a large enough sample to say anthing with statistical confidence (but that's a whole other post about stats)
1: Best wishes 25%.
2: Good luck 15%.
3: Best wishes and good luck combination, 10%.
4: Congratulations 5%.
5: All the best <5%.
6: I will miss you <5%.
7: Thanks for your help <5%.
8: Goodbye <5%.
9: Enjoy the new job <5%.
10: Sorry you are leaving <5%.
I think 50% of 'best wishes' and/or 'good luck' shows just how unimaginitive we are so I'd like to encourage everyone reading this to write something far more interesting in the next card that lands on the bench in front of you.
Why doesn't anyone write "I've always loved you" and sign it from a secret admirer?
And don't forget to add a couple of quid, dollars, yen, etc.