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I'm finishing my internship at a tech company tomorrow. It's in the US and the company culture is very laid back. I brought chocolate for my team of 15 today, should I get a personal gift for my tech lead who hired me? He was very helpful and took me to many happy hours on/off campus, though it was another coworker who gave me tasks and helped me debug.

I BARELY talked to 4 people in my team (except saying hi if we ran into each other, and sometimes had one of them in my lunch group), but the rest were very helpful and I'd like to give them a card at least. Would it be awkward if I wrote thank you notes for everyone but them? Also, should I place the cards on the desks before people come to the office tomorrow, or mail them later?

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    Can you provide your location. This is much more about local culture than about professionalism. Here in the US, an email to the group about 3 paragraphs (maximum) in length would be appropriate. Cards would come off as "weird." – Wesley Long Aug 19 '16 at 2:38
  • @WesleyLong I just edited my post, it's in the US and we're a close knit team with plenty of happy hours and ping pong tournaments. Thanks for your input, I may have to consider emailing instead! – confusedstudent Aug 19 '16 at 2:49
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    I don't think it hurts to bring in a cake or something to say thank you. A gift could be a difficult thing to buy, especially if its multiple members of a team. A thank you email + treats would probably go over pretty well. For the people who went that extra mile for you, just thank them personally/quietly as well. – Dandy Aug 19 '16 at 3:20
  • A gift from an intern? Interns are generally broke college kids- its generally frowned on most places I work to let them pay for anything (bringing in food like you mentioned would be appreciated, but not expected). A card or thank you email would be fine, but not required. – Gabe Sechan Jul 27 '17 at 3:53
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In the US it's generally appropriate to acknowledge your team and your appreciation of them with a brief email. This also serves to let everyone know that you're not going to be around anymore in case they otherwise missed the memo.

As far as gifting is concerned. There's no hard-and-fast rule on it. It will depend heavily on your office culture, and how close you are with your coworkers.

It's not uncommon to bring in some food to share on your last day, such as doughnuts or cupcakes (If you're of age, and your office tolerates it, it's also not uncommon to bring beer at the end of your last day).

Gifting items to specific people isn't overly common and should really be reserved for anyone who you want to show appreciation to. Basically, only give someone a gift when you would have otherwise given them a gift even if you weren't leaving.

With that said, it's not uncommon for interns to give out random tchotchkes or other mementos. My desk is littered with various things gifted from past interns, such as figurines, kazoos, origami, and a small flock of rubber ducks (for debugging of course). Mostly these related in one way or another to some sort of inside joke or activity.

With the dozens of interns I've worked with, I've never been given a card. I feel that cards are generally reserved for more formal and personal occasions, such as birthdays, weddings, babies, and funerals (boy did that escalate quickly). It would probably be a bit weird, so I'd definitely suggest sticking with a nice email.

Oh, and don't forget the doughnuts.

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    Agree on all fronts. A genuine thank-you email to the team and perhaps a separate one to the manager are the way to go these days. Email also has other advantages over cards such as giving you more room and being more permanent. I've heard that these emails often end up in a feel-good folder for managers. – Lilienthal Aug 19 '16 at 8:09
  • And be sure sure to check the HR manual before giving a manager a present. It may not be allowed. – HLGEM Jul 26 '17 at 21:11
  • "It's not uncommon to bring in some food to share on your last day" I've found its more common for the team to take the intern out to lunch on their last day. They are usually broke college students, after all :-) – Andy Jul 26 '17 at 21:52
  • In the (most of a) year since I wrote this answer I actually had a co-op give me a much appreciated thank you card at the end of their internship. I don't know if they wrote cards for everyone, but I do know that a lot of the team received cards and each one was personalized. I would definitely say they went significantly above-and-beyond expectations. – zzzzBov Jul 26 '17 at 23:09

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