It’s Time to Start Behaving like a Young Professional
Whether you’re starting your college career at a two-year junior college or a four-year university, you’ve made a huge step in becoming a successful person. Now I don’t know if anyone has told you this yet, but you are officially an adult and it’s time to start behaving like one. Now is the time to start holding yourself to a higher standard. Simply put, you can no longer get away with the things you got away with in high school. Period.
It’s sad to say, but too many students enter college with split personalities. On the one hand, they want to enjoy the freedom to come and go as they please – like adults – and yet on the other hand, expect Professors to baby them. Guess what, that can’t be you!
First, “I didn’t know,” can no longer be an excuse. Please, flush that phrase.
As a young professional, it is your responsibility to know which classes you need to take, when your final payments are due, and when you have to apply for graduation. Yep, I said it. It is your responsibility. Own it. You need to – no, you have to be on top of things.
Secondly, you can’t walk across campus as if no one’s looking. As a young professional, you can’t afford to walk across campus in your pajamas or saggin’ your hoop shorts. You need to be setting the standard, not reinforcing negative stereotypes. Now I know what you’re thinking; and no, you don’t have to be in your Sunday best or speak English as if you have tea and crumpets every day. However, you should be aware that people are watching you. Do they see the behavior of someone destined for greatness?
And another thing, you need to be careful when communicating with professionals – especially via email. I want to single out email correspondence because it’s becoming the most popular method for contacting staff and faculty.
Unfortunately, too many students confuse emailing with texting, ijs. When you’re texting friends and family, feel free to use every ‘lol,’ ‘lmbo,’ ‘ftw,’ and ‘smh’s’ that your fingers can type every second. But, when you’re sending an email to a Professor, academic advisor, or potential mentor, your emails need to be professional.
So what do I mean by professional? Well, each and every one of your emails needs to include a greeting such as:
“Dear Professor Gonzalez;”
“Hello Ms. Jo;”
or “Good morning, Dr. Earl.”
Your emails also need to be brief. If you want to meet with a Professor, don’t beat around the bush. When do you want to meet? Where? Why? Get to the point and get there quickly. Then, close off the email with a concluding statement and your preferred contact information. An appropriate closing might look something like this:
Thank you for your time,
Alright, now that I’ve covered the basics, what does a professional email actually look like? Well, a little…like…this…
Dear Professor Alfred,
My name is Christian Tomlinson and I am a student in the Department of Sociology. I am working on a class project that addresses some of the same issues that you study. If possible, I would like to meet with you early next week to discuss the project. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Alright, as long as we’re talking about what we do online, let’s talk about social networks. Now I don’t want to go on and on and on about this topic; and, I certainly don’t want to seem like I’m telling you not to use social networking sites. However, it’s important that I tell you to
POST. WITH. CAUTION.
As a young professional, you need to remember that anything you post online can come back to haunt you. With that being said, don’t allow yourself to be videoed doing something you wouldn’t want the world to see; because it’s a real possibility that at some point in your future, that skeleton might fall out of the closet in front of a whole bunch of people. Also, you don’t need to be posting pictures of yourself doing things that are illegal or immoral. In the end, I’m just asking you to be careful. Before you post it, ask yourself: Could I be embarrassed by of this tomorrow? Next week? A year from now? Twenty years from now? If so, don’t post it. If not, post it.
Okay, let’s wrap this up because I promised I wouldn’t go on and on. At the end of each day, you should be confident that you carried yourself like a young professional. Does that mean you’ll be free of mistakes? Absolutely not. You’re still growing as a person. Shoot, we all are! But going to class late – unacceptable. Skipping class – unacceptable. Showing up to class in your pajamas – unacceptable. Cussin’ and fussin’ in the cafeteria – unacceptable. Getting into fights – unacceptable. Emailing professors like they’re your friends – unacceptable. Posting pictures of yourself getting high, getting drunk, or getting into fights – unacceptable! You never know who may be your future boss, mentor, or colleague. So, you certainly don’t want them getting the wrong idea about you. A negative image might just cost you the internship, the job, or a recommendation letter. When it comes down to it, you want people to be able to say, “(Your name here) is always on his/her A-game, and I’d love to work with him/her.”
Final Quick Tips:
1) You can’t afford to surround yourself with knuckleheads. Ever heard the phrase, “birds of a feather?” Okay. So, if you’re friends aren’t about business, you might have to distance yourself from them. If you’re serious about your future, you won’t mind making some necessary cuts.
2) As a young professional, you can’t afford to get caught up in drama. Use your head. If it can get you in trouble, stay away from it.
3) Yes, young professionals are allowed to have a good time. You can party. You can hang out; but when you do, please be responsible.