Professionalism at work
So you’ve landed the perfect internship or your first graduate job and you are elated and raring to go, but have you given some thought to how you will make a really positive first impression with your new colleagues and carve out a reputation for being a true professional?
Remember that during your first couple of weeks whilst you’re forming your opinions of your new colleagues, they will also be interested to find out more about you so it is essential that you deliver a perfectly polished professional persona!
What is professionalism?
People tend to associate the concept of professionalism with having a certain attitude at work and behaving appropriately in any given situation.
Of course, presenting a professional image doesn’t mean sacrificing your own personality, it simply means that you should try to be as self aware as possible and remain alert to, and respectful of, how your words and actions will be interpreted by others.
Professionalism - some examples
A positive attitude
Having a positive outlook and a ‘can do’ attitude should not be underestimated. It is crucial to get people on side and keep them there by being approachable and maintaining a solution-focussed approach. This might be as simple as smiling and being approachable, and not being drawn into workplace politics. Or, on a different level, it might involve volunteering ideas or support for more challenging or unpopular tasks
It may sound obvious but if you have been tasked to complete a piece of work or have a specific responsibility it is essential that you get the job done. And not only complete it, but do so on time and to a high level of quality. As a professional you will be expected to keep your promises and where there is potential for something to take longer than anticipated or not achieve the desired standard or result you should manage expectations accordingly by keeping people well informed.
It is likely that you will be expected to develop specialist knowledge and in some cases, undergo specific training and gain accreditation. Throughout your career it is essential to maintain your credibility and make a firm commitment to continuous professional development. This might mean simply keeping up to date with day to day developments within your area, working with your peers to support one another’s practice, or taking part in additional training and learning opportunities.
Throughout your career you will face workplace challenges ranging from small day to day dilemmas to more complex problems. It is crucial that your approach is carefully thought out and your conduct remains appropriate at all times. If you are ever struggling with how to respond to a particular issue if might be useful to consult a close colleague or workplace mentor for advice.
Essential skills for an excellent career
The Work Ethics series
Expert advice on workplace conduct