Practicing professionalism

Illustration by Miles Huffman

How does a person become a good sports player? A good French hornist? A good writer?


While it may not seem obvious, professionalism is also something that takes practice. For college students the time to start practicing is now.

Professionalism is more than just watching social media profiles – it’s a way of thinking and behaving that can be very different than the behaviors of the students I’ve seen.

Clothing – at minimum a polo for the gents and a nice blouse for the ladies. Slacks are fine for both. But I don’t see many students, outside the Greek system, getting used to wearing more professional clothing. There’s almost an art to it that takes time.

Attitude – attitude is a critical component to professionalism. This is not just about respecting co-workers but also respecting the job. Texting, Tweeting, being on Facebook (unless the duties of the position call for social media usage) and other non-work related things while on the clock are disrespectful and it shows.

Distance – depending on the type of profession there needs to be a certain distance between the professional and the personal. Dating someone in the office? Bad idea. I’ve personally been there.

Very bad idea. Also not a good idea to get personally involved with clients, even if it’s not romantic. A conflict of interest can get ugly very quickly.

By beginning the practice of some basic professional skills and way of thinking they become second nature. It’s always good to have a leg up, particularly with that first job.

Joseph Rogers can be reached at [email protected] or @JosephLRogers1 on Twitter.