While the hard skills students learn in college are undoubtedly important, soft skills such as professionalism are an equally important aspect of the collegiate experience. In order to prepare for their futures in the workforce, students must learn how to conduct themselves in a professional manner, however; a recent survey revealed that many professors feel that their students do not exhibit qualities associated with being professional in the workplace. Read on for the top five characteristics of professionalism, and how professors can model these characteristics for their students.
- Appearance: Professionals should always be neat and put-together in appearance adhering to all standards relating to dress their employer has in place. Professors can model this behavior for their students by dressing according to the college or university standards. By wearing appropriate attire, professors can model professionalism for their students. Always dress for success!
- Reliability: In the workforce, professionals are to exhibit consistent and reliable behavior. Professors can demonstrate such behavior by making themselves available to students, responding to emails promptly, and arriving to class prepared and on time. Doing so can exhibit professionalism and indicate to students how they should behave in the professional realm.
- Maintaining your poise: A key component of professionalism is maintaining poise, even in difficult situations. When students behave inappropriately in class, or a conflict arises, professors can set an example for students by remaining calm and collected. This helps students see that the appropriate way to handle challenging situations is with care and thought, not outrage or emotional outbursts.
- Email correspondence: A major challenge that students face is proper use of email etiquette. Professors can model email etiquette, an important tenet of professionalism, by promptly responding to emails and following common conventions for email correspondence. For many students, college will be the first time truly using email in a professional setting, therefore professors should help model acceptable email dialogue.
- Organizational skills: Every company has a unique organizational system. Be it physical files, a shared drive, or cloud storage, organization is a vital component of any business. Professors should stay organized, and instill organizational best practices in their students. This is a critical component of professionalism for which professors can serve as a role model and mentor for students.