When Did They Teach Professionalism?

December 18, 2009

This morning I got to the gym at 6:30.  I had so much on my mind, that I didn’t realize it was 8:30 before I left.  I kept trying to reason why we weren’t required to take professionalism classes in college.  When preparing for the “real world” it should be important that we not only learn the facts but are taught how to go from a life of inappropriate drinking games to a life of professionalism.

When I started out my first job, everyone was so friendly – like they wanted to be my friend.  Quickly I learned that these people were not my friends they were my co-workers.  I needed to adjust my behavior from “let me tell you about my personal life”, to a simple “Good Morning!” and then continuing on with my day.

I feel like this is really hard for a college student.  I wanted everyone to like me, and thought this would happen if I became their friend and did everything they asked.  This was terrible for my career.

I wish I had a mentor by my side constantly telling me I should say “NO” to doing the work that everyone else did not want to do.  A mentor that told me what I was doing is ruining my office image – and not allowing me to gain respect from my co-workers.  What I was doing, was creating a image for myself that would put me in the spot to be the corporate intern forever.

I keep trying to find that moment in college that I would learn what professionalism is all about, but I cannot think of one – maybe I skipped on the day we had that conversation.

If I ever have my own startup, I am going to make sure that I am not just an employer, but a mentor as well.  I wish I received the knowledge I am receiving now 5 years ago – maybe then I wouldn’t feel so lost in the office sometimes.

2 Responses to “When Did They Teach Professionalism?”

  1. I read this like a thank you note. Whether it was meant that way or not.
    I wish someone had told me that I could never be happy being in a company that is all men. It seems like it should work, but it doesn’t work. It’s very lonely.
    So we each are thankful for the other 🙂

  2. Rebecca Says:

    I think this is made all the more difficult because professionalism means very different things at different companies, and you have to adjust your expectations and behavior accordingly.

    It’s very helpful to have people tell you, but you should also not feel bad about proactively asking. For instance, this week, I asked my boss and the colleague that I work most closely with, even though it isn’t review time, how things were going, what I was doing well, what I could improve, my strengths, weaknesses, etc. It was a simple five minute conversation, but it made me feel good about where I am going into the New Year.

    It’s also about paying attention to people’s reactions. My current boss loves when I talk about certain activities in my life (I think, because work-life balance is important to him and he wants to make sure I have a life, ha), but two bosses ago, my boss could have cared less.

    And I love that you’re storing your lessons for when you’re a manager.

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