Being “so profesh” in college means waking up before 9 a.m. or updating your LinkedIn account. Let’s face it. Undergrads have a way of maintaining the lowest standards of professionalism. We walk around in gym clothes with no intention of joining afternoon spin class, we applaud ourselves for ending a night out without puking and we will almost never make it to that 7 a.m. gen ed class on time. It’s no secret that when a normal Wednesday night involves bar-hopping and $3 pizza, undergrad life often looks more like an extended childhood than a training ground for future degree-holding professionals.
Stuck in this purgatory between braces and business suits, the “real world” remains a laughable concept. But when we’re ready to step into the actual real world, we must be prepared to leave the hot mess at home. Check out these tips on professionalism from professionals. It’s more than showing up on time and wearing closed-toed shoes.
Let your clothes do the talking
Employees don’t just keep an organization running, they represent their company through their appearances. From your first interview onward, let your outfit reflect the right vibe. “They say dress for the job you want, not the job you have. That’s great, unless you’re gonna dress like Batman. That might not fly,” said UF performing arts coordinator Derek Wohlust. A professional wardrobe is not up for interpretation. Kaitlin Gardiner, marketing and public relations coordinator at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said that many interns mistake Toms shoes and sheer tops with appropriate attire. When in doubt, leave it out. Grab a pair of black slacks, conservative button-up shirts and closed-toed leather shoes, and you’re good to go.
Keep it in your pants
Your coworkers are not potential lovers. The work habitat survives on stickler rules to ensure no one ends up in a threesome over the copy machine, The Wolf of Wall Street-style. Be careful with what you say and do, or you might find yourself in court. No joke. UF Career Resource Center Assistant Director for Assessment and Planning Samuel Kennedy advised to keep “The New York Times idea” in mind. “Whatever you say or whatever you write, you wouldn’t have any qualms with it appearing on the front of the New York Times,” he said.
Be the HBIC
Being professional is about being a great team player. What your team needs is someone who knows their shit and can solve almost any issue at the drop of a dime (AKA someone who actually read the new employee handbook). Gardiner said the best professionals are those who can be trusted to take care of business without 24/7 supervision.“Professional behavior creates a positive work environment and rubs off on all other aspects of the work place,” Gardiner said. Being the head bitch in charge feels good and inspires those around you.
Let go of your ego
“There will be a small percentage that won’t be happy no matter what you do. We go for 100 percent, that’s what our bosses are asking for, but that’s impossible,” said Filip Dynowaik, front office manager at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center of Gainesville. Dynowaik’s best advice for those unaccustomed to crabby clients? Don’t take it personally. This isn’t about how much harder you work than the other guy, or how you and your boyfriend just broke up last night. On the job, you are a working part of something larger than yourself. Some days will be messier than a frat house on game day. Don’t let it get to you.
You gotta talk the talk and walk the walk. If you are really “so honored” for this opportunity, be willing to make a real commitment.“When Saturday comes in, everybody goes out, all your friends have fun. You are working. When everybody leaves for Thanksgiving, you are working,” said Dynowaik. Yes, that means missing karaoke night now and then, which might actually be a good thing for everyone.