I had an internship this summer and for the first half of the summer I kind of blew it. I was constantly late and overall just a bad employee. I would have fired me and plenty of other people in HR would have fired me too. My supervisor and their boss however gave me a second chance and I, at least in my perspective, turned it around and actually produced some quality work. I know my supervisor is pleased with my work as they said so and in a final presentation last week it seemed that my supervisor's boss is pleased with me too.

My supervisor really went out on a limb for me and I wanted to thank them in person, but unfortunately I'll have to do it by email. I was planning on asking them for recommendations in the future, which I don't think they would be very opposed to.

Obviously I could be very wrong about how they've percieved me since they gave me a second chance, but I think they would have just fired me if I was doing a poor job. How do I thank my supervisor and their boss for giving me a second chance and not firing me when I probably should have been fired?

  • 3
    Send them a thoughtful email?
    – wrymug
    Aug 18, 2017 at 14:38
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    On a side note: Congratulations on a very successful internship. It was successful because you learned how to be an effective and reliable employee. Aug 18, 2017 at 16:53
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    Look on the bright side - you did this as an intern where it was kind of expected. Now when you get in the workplace, and all those college graduates who never went through this kind of stuff before ... go through this kind of stuff, you're going to look like a rock-star, and you'll be at the top of the list for those project lead, team lead, and manager roles. I'm serious, good internship experience gives you an edge for the rest of your career if you play it right.
    – corsiKa
    Aug 18, 2017 at 22:55
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    I'd write a letter.
    – Strawberry
    Aug 19, 2017 at 12:25
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    When interns write me a thank-you at the end of their stint with me, I appreciate it. I wouldn't bring up the bad stuff, they will remember it anyway, and if they don't well...don't remind them. Just mention how fun it was working on project X. For god's sake dont' thank them for not firing you. Be ultra positive, you want to leave a positive seed in their mind for when it is time for that letter of rec request. Aug 19, 2017 at 16:48

4 Answers 4


You already did it - you thanked them by proving them right in keeping you on.

You could do the polite thing in thanking them for their trust in you... I'm assuming here that your prior "bad employee" phase was discussed at the time and you've shown some contrition, so there's no need to revisit that. You only need go with the positives.

Yes, this is a short answer, but I can't think how adding more words can make this any more straightforward.

  • 16
    This is so important by proving them right in keeping you on. Not all answers here have to be long dictations.
    – Neo
    Aug 18, 2017 at 14:42
  • I know accepting answers quickly is considered bad but I have to go, so I'm accepting this because it's what I'm doing.
    – anon
    Aug 18, 2017 at 16:28
  • 1
    They say "actions speak louder than words."
    – corsiKa
    Aug 18, 2017 at 23:00
  • @anon You accepted a great answer, so no worries about accepting quickly here. That said, if you do want to wait before accepting answers in the future, there's nothing wrong with leaving the question and coming back in a day or two.
    – jpmc26
    Aug 19, 2017 at 18:50

Include it in a farewell email.

At the end of an internship, consulting contract, or job, it is common for employees who are leaving under good terms to send farewell emails to managers and coworkers. This email usually includes some positive sentiment about the work/people and your permanent contact information if you'd like to stay in touch.

Don't apologize for your shortcomings; instead, thank them for their investment in you. This keeps the focus positive. You don't even need to mention or allude to your shortcomings. This falls under "positive sentiment about the people": you're telling your manager that you appreciate their faith in you as an intern.

You can tell your manager that you learned a lot about how to be an effective employee, and that you appreciated their mentorship. Do not say you're glad they didn't fire you.

I also don't suggest asking for recommendations in your farewell email. Save that for when you actually need a recommendation.


It may be old-fashioned, but a hand-written thank you card means a lot more to some people than an email. Any time I've sent one, it has been very well-received--I've had people bring it up again six months after the fact.

  • 1
    A small, thoughtful, inexpensive gift can also mean a lot. A book you think they'd like, or some homemade baked goods. It's inappropriate for a superior to accept a gift of substantial monetary value from a subordinate. Aug 18, 2017 at 19:41
  • In response to your comment: Don't buy someone a book, unless you are sure they will appreciate that particular one (it'll be relevant to them and they don't already have it). Buy them a gift card for a large chain instead, which they can redeem for any book that they like (and don't already have). In the US that might be Amazon, Barnes & Noble or some similar company; in other countries there are likely local equivalents.
    – user
    Aug 19, 2017 at 15:29
  • Yes please no books. Hand-written thank you card is what most students get me and I appreciate it. Aug 19, 2017 at 17:38
  • I don't think it's appropriate to give a supervisor a gift card. That puts them in an awkward ethical spot. Aug 21, 2017 at 14:17

While expressing your appreciation is fine, it isn't necessary to thank them. They were doing their job, and in this case, they did it correctly, as you have learned from your mistakes and are now productive. IF they had fired you they would have missed out on their productivity. No need to thank them for being good at their jobs.

  • 5
    It's never necessary to thank someone. Just a nice, good thing to do that shows some class. Aug 18, 2017 at 19:40
  • Not necessary, but fairly standard. All my good students have thanked me and left me a very gracious note. The crappy ones rarely do. Yes it was my job to be helpful, but I also didn't have to do it, and in particular I didn't have to do it well. You aren't thanking them for being good at their jobs. You are thanking them because you have a soul. Aug 19, 2017 at 22:27
  • @Bproductive That is not the same thing as thanking you specifically for not firing them. Choosing not to fire someone is not a favor to that someone, it is a business decision.
    – mwbl
    Aug 21, 2017 at 15:15
  • @mwbl fair enough. Never ever thank advisor for not firing you that would just be weird. Aug 21, 2017 at 21:00

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