On Professionalism

When it comes to learning something new, the “I already knew that” attitude disengages your #growthmindset and prevents you from connecting & integrating new information into productive knowledge.  Even if you know something that is being taught, give yourself the advantage of viewing the information from a different perspective.

A path towards career success necessarily includes professionalism.  You will not suddenly attain professionalism the day you graduate.  Professionalism is a learned/ acquired and practiced conduct.   Below are some starters to consider (based on my 2 decades in the work field):

Here is a good link for advice – in addition, note the following:

Write well – clearly and concisely

Speak well – and preferably if you have something useful, meaningful, helpful, or delightful to say

Do not text while someone is talking to you – and certainly not in class

Be aware of email etiquette (see below)

Be on time as much as you can

Focus on the task at hand

Be resourceful, not resentful

Get to know your peers/ colleagues/ professors – their letter of recommendation might be important (see below)

Give credit where it is due

AND articulate your contributions when appropriate

Apologize if you are wrong

BUT stand up for yourself – politely and firmly

You are your own walking business card and your appearance speaks before you even open your mouth

Don’t take anything personally – you are too professional for that

Work diligently and try your best – the quality of your work will speak for itself

Do not be intimidated.  By anyone

Talk about ideas – not people (unless it is something productive).  If you talk about people, it might seem as though you have no ideas to talk about

Some people are not professional and are not pleasant to work with – don’t let that spoil your day.  You have things to do, people to see, accomplishments to achieve.  Keep at it

If you come across an unpleasant person, be rest assured, that it has nothing to do with you – their demeanor is just that – “their” demeanor.  You are responsible for your own professionalism and demeanor

Remember that people come to work largely so that they can feed their own families and live their own lives – they are don’t come to work to deal with your personal issues

Do not email/call people at odd times and expect them to return your message right away – they may have balanced lives and sensible priorities

Budget your time – to meet deadlines and also to lead a balanced and healthy and enjoyable  life

If you are lucky, you love the work you do – otherwise, be sure to make enough time to do what you love

Here is a fantastic resource to identify key differences between high school and college.  Take the time to read it.

On Email Etiquette

The tone, content, and quality of your email reflects your professionalism. There is a difference between text and emailing;  your texts to your your friends/ family can be casual BUT your emails to professors and colleagues must be professional. Your professors and colleagues are potential recommenders for jobs/ opportunities/ graduate programs. Represent yourself professionally at all times.

  • Address the professor/ colleague
  • Be clear and concise in the body of your email
  • Sign your name – we have several students each semester, we cannot tell who you are by your email address, and more importantly, it is professional to sign your name

Here is a good link

And another – in addition, note the following:

On Letters of Recommendation

As an undergraduate, I assumed my professors were evaluating me solely on exams scores, but when they shared their letters of recommendation for my grad school applications, it was obvious that they had also been evaluating my behavior and demeanor, and attitude.  So, 2 pieces of advice:

1.  know that your professor/ employer is constantly evaluating you – your performance AND your demeanor and attitude

2.  ask for a letter of recommendation/ reference only if you are assured of a stellar one.  A luke-warm or average one will not be to your best advantage

On Priorities

Goals are necessary and important.  Meaningful goals lead to a life well-lived by you.  Tomorrow is not promised to anyone – so focus on who/what truly matters to you – right NOW.  What would you do if you had 5 years to live?  3 years?  1 year? A few days?

What works for me?  I have identified 5 things that truly matter to me;  I cherish and focus on those NOW, and the others are easily placed where they belong.

It is your responsibility to keep your “inner space” safe, simple, sacred – and delighted.  Who you truly are is a reflection of your “inner space”


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