Professionalism in The
Preparing for your New Position
• Making the transition from graduate student to
professional in the workplace can be a challenge.
However, if you understand the expectations of
the workplace you are entering, this move from
graduate school to the world of work can be done
• It is important to make the distinction between
being a student and being an employee. The
expectations for communication, behavior and
appearance will be much different.
• Regardless of the field you enter, every
employer will expect you to be able to
communicate effectively, regardless of
medium. While texting is the tool of choice
for most in school, it is not always appropriate
in the world of work. You must be able to
write more formally, including your email.
• Punctuation, capitalization, and grammar are important in
all written communication, including email.
• Do not compose emails the same way in which you speak.
Your written communications should always be more
formal than when you speak to someone in person.
• Use your first few weeks on the job to evaluate corporate
culture. If your employer uses short, concise sentences,
then follow suit.
• Never put anything in an email that you would not say in
person. Also, if you are not sure that your information will
be conveyed appropriately, do not send an email, instead
pick up the phone and call.
• Return calls and emails within 24 hours
whenever possible, and depending on who
has contacted your, faster if at all possible.
• When calling someone, even if you are
absolutely sure that they will know who you
are, always identify yourself and ask if they
have a few moments to speak with you,
particularly if you call them directly.
• Talk less and listen more.
• Always take the opportunity to praise others who are
worthy of praise, and do so publicly whenever possible.
Also, never criticize in public.
• When someone is telling you a story, do not interrupt.
Listen and avoid following up with a story of your own.
• When someone compliments you for your work, do
not say, “It was nothing”, (or say, “no problem”) as this
belittles their compliment. Say that you appreciate it,
thank them with a smile, and move on.
• Be respectful to everyone, regardless of their level in
the organization.
• Never use profanity in the workplace, even if
others around you do.
• Respect the authority of those in positions
higher than yours. Do not assume that you
can call someone by their first name until they
ask you to do so. Even when calling someone
by their first name, use the same level of
respect as if you had called them by their title.
Social Media
• Review your media footprint. Google yourself, review your
profiles and social media sites; inspect all photos that are
posted of you.
• While on the job, never post anything to social media sites
that you would not want your boss or supervisor to see.
Avoid politically charged posts, and think about friends who
may post things to your timeline that may be deemed
questionable. Review your friends and following lists. Now
may be a time to review and revise your lists and refine who
you allow to see your profiles.
• It is NEVER appropriate to post information about your
organization, your superiors, or your colleagues online. Posts
are NEVER private and always permanent.
Behavior – First Week
• Before you even walk through the front doors to your
building, be sure that you fully understand the
business of your organization and your role in
contributing to its success.
– Be prepared to effectively explain this to whoever may ask,
including your supervisor. If you understand how you can
contribute to your organization’s success, you can set
attainable and relevant goals for your own performance.
• Be an early morning person. Arriving early always
makes a better first impression than staying late.
And, don’t walk out the door right at quitting time.
Behavior – First Week
• Each time you are introduced to someone new,
repeat their name during the introduction and once
you have some quiet time, write it down.
– Being able to call your co-workers, and especially your
superiors, by name while still new to the organization
makes a significant impression.
• Personalize your work area, but not too personal.
Frame your degree and hang it on the wall. Put a
small picture on your desk. Get a nameplate so
everyone will know who you are.
Behavior – First Month
• Plan your day each morning upon your arrival to the
office or before you leave the office the night before.
Ten to fifteen minutes of planning will equal an extra
hour or more of productivity throughout the day.
• Be the first person to say Hello to others in the
morning. And say it with a smile.
• Never leave a half cup of coffee in the coffee maker
for the next person. Always make a fresh pot.
Behavior – First Month
• Keep an extra shirt or blouse, pressed and boxed, in
your car or tucked away in your workspace. You
never know when you may need a quick change to
maintain a professional appearance.
• Arrive at meetings on time. Bring extra work so that
you can pass the time with while you are waiting for
• Do not doodle during meetings. If topics being
covered are outside of your area, look at your
schedule and review what you need to accomplish
that day.
Behavior – First Month
• Eat lunch in. You will save both time and money. $10 per
lunch out adds up to more than $4,000 per year.
However, do not pass up opportunities to network with
co-workers and build professional connections during the
lunch hour. Take others in your company out to lunch to
learn more about their jobs and their departments. Let
them do the talking while you do the listening.
• Go for a brisk walk each day. Park at the far end of the lot
in the morning. Or stretch your legs during lunch. It will
clear your mind and make you more productive for the
remainder of the day.
• In your first week, establish the rules for dress.
Employers define business casual very broadly. Always
ask what is appropriate. Denim Fridays in some firms
means dress jeans with a jacket, in others it may mean
casual jeans with an organization’s polo.
• Dress for the level to which you aspire – you will already
look as though you have arrived and your bosses will
easily view you as working at the next level.
• When in doubt, dress for more. It is easy to remove a
jacket, loosen a tie. It is far more difficult to dress up a
casual look.
• For those industries with a strong client focus, the image
presented to the customer is critical. Keep this in mind
when selecting your attire.
• Never confuse a business function with a social event.
Don't dress for a party or a date.
• Basic professional attire does not change with the whims
of fashion. A good suit should last five to ten years,
depending on its quality, how well you care for it, and if it
continues to fit you well. You can express fashion trends
in your off-the-job clothing and conservatively in your
Ethics in the World of Work
• Before you leave your college campus, develop a
value statement for yourself underscoring what
integrity and ethics mean to you. Understand what
standing by your values will mean to you in the
• Have integrity in all you do. You will be amazed how
far it sets you above your peers.
• Make good on your promises. Never make a promise
you are not sure you can keep. A good motto to live
by is “Promise little and deliver a lot.”

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