What Is Professionalism?

This week, I went around and asked a few people this question, “What is professionalism?” And here are the answers I got:

“The first thing that comes to mind is putting your best foot forward during hard times—remaining calm.” -Molly Sullivan, Junior

“I think it has to do a lot with respect and knowing how to act in certain environments. It is a hard-working attitude.” -Terra Glab, Junior

“It is doing your best and trying to help others do their best within the workplace.” – Sydney Schley, Sophomore  

 “Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey”  -Mikey Shores, Junior

 “I see professionalism as a combination of maturity and knowing how to navigate what’s appropriate in a workplace.” – Mike Pasternock, High School Teacher

What do you think of when you think of professionalism? Is it hard work, responsibility or maturity? Is it a friend, co-worker or famous person? Well according to Merriam Webster, being professional means, “exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally business-like manner in the workplace.” I guess the question now is, what are some practical ways to show professionalism in the workplace? Here are a few places to start!

  1. Professionalism isn’t all about outer appearance by any means, but the way you present yourself does play a part. Make sure you dress appropriately to work every day. Whether that be khakis and a button down or a full suit, stock your wardrobe and have clothes ready each day. Check out the MU Career Center Guide to Business Attire for more specific information and ideas.
  1. Be timely. This is so important. Keep track of your meetings and show up a little before they start. Strolling in late or right as a meeting is starting shows carelessness and an apathetic attitude that can bring down company morale.
  1. Remain calm. Listen to people and take time to solve problems as they arise. Issues are inevitable in the workplace but having someone to provide reassurance and next steps during critical times is crucial.
  1. Communicate effectively. Make sure you are talking with your co-workers and bosses, following up with emails, questions and projects. Delegate work when necessary, but also be on top of tasks you are responsible for completing (especially when other people are counting on you).
  1. Be teachable. No matter how much you know, you will never know everything. Ask questions and be curious but most importantly take criticism with an open mind and act on in. Realize that feedback is good and when taken into consideration can turn things from good to great.

Overall, professionalism is always needed in the work place and the sooner you can get these skills under your belt the better. Start practicing these things now and you are sure to stand out and succeed!