AOL Employee Bids a Fond (But Fun) Farewell
When it's time to leave your job, everyone dreams of going out with a bang, but Wajmah Yaqubi returned to AOL's New York headquarters after hours and shot a bang-up goodbye video that went viral a day after she posted it on her Facebook page.
What were they going to do -- fire her? She'd already accepted a fine job running the photo department at ABCNews.com. Yaqubi had given and fulfilled her two week's notice, and at the end of her last day, wanted to pay final "tribute to AOL and all things AOL-like."
So, on her last night, she waited until most employees had left the building affectionately known as "770" (Broadway), and got together with close friend and AOL photo/video editor Jenna von Elling, who shot the whole thing on an HD Flip. In the video, Yaqubi dances through the halls, saying goodbye to some of her favorite colleagues and their cubicles and dancing around AOL headquarters "landmarks" such as the sheer curtains that surround public meeting lounges, the famed employee art wall, and a plaque of the unofficial AOL mascot, the blue monster. AOL has been big on giving employees T-shirts since the very beginning, so one scene has Yaqubi peeling off T-shirt after T-shirt after T-shirt. In the end, she skips out the door and into the dark night.
Von Elling then edited the whole thing music-video-style, and set it to Patty Smith's 'Goodbye to You.' If anyone is going to face any repercussions, it would be von Elling, who met Yaqubi at AOL eight years ago, and is still employed there. But she had her boss vet it before she posted it on her Facebook page via Vimeo, so she isn't too worried. "I hope the people above me at AOL can tell it was made with love," she says.
Once Business Insider picked up the video the same day it was first posted, it became highly unlikely that top execs at AOL would miss it. Since von Elling hasn't experienced any blow back yet, it's probably safe to say she's in the clear.
And now Yaqubi has publicly cleared the way to move on. Although she's only 33, she has a long and storied career as a photo editor, having worked for UPI, Getty Images and US News and World Report before landing at AOL eight years ago. "It was time for a change, but leaving was bittersweet," she says. "It was like leaving family. AOL has done so much for me." Even though her AOL stock hadn't vested yet, she felt it was time to go.
After bidding what has become a very public adieu, Yaqubi starts at ABCNews.com next week, and because of the video, she's become a bit of a folk hero there. "I'm not in anyway knocking AOL," she says. "It was made out of innocence and pure love for the people I worked with for so long." And a nice side benefit is letting her new colleagues know what she's capable of.
-- Have you quit a job in a creative way? Share Your Story
Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.