Professionalism, Workplace Etiquette and First-Year Success as a New Grad

Proper business etiquette can help you succeeed in the workplace.Winning an internship, first career position, spot in grad school or full-time volunteer assignment after graduation is the result of planning and preparation that starts as soon as you enter college. By your senior year, you want to be well on your way to looking and acting like the professional you hope to become. Employers and graduate schools seek out candidates who have a well developed set of qualities and skills, and it’s your goal to be among them, right?

Acquiring the perspectives, work place savvy, business etiquette and social skills to be competitive doesn’t happen overnight. You have to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and work on them both. Below is a quick list of suggestions to help you be the most attractive candidate you can be. When recruiters come calling, they expect to find polished young adults. Read on and find out how you can get way ahead of your competition.

The Path to Becoming a Professional

  • Increase your sense of curiosity; look for opportunities and take advantage of them. Think like an entrepreneur. 
  • Understand where your education is leading—toward making a positive difference in the world.
  • Identify the life and work skills you need and start developing or improving upon them.
  • Take those class presentations and communication classes seriously. Some sort of public speaking is a part of most every job.
  • Learn good grammar (subject-verb agreement, correct use of a word). 
  • Take those modern language classes seriously. We work and live in a global market and interdependent world.
  • Practice being a problem solver. Learn to be resourceful. Supervisors will look to you for recommendations and answers.
  • Become a leader in your own way. Don’t always wait for others to initiate. Find ways to develop leadership skills.
  • Perfect your skill as a team player.  Organizations depend on the cooperation of their employees.
  • Take some risk, get out of your comfort zone and get involved. Help change things for the better where you are.  
  • Pay attention to details. It makes life and work easier for everyone.
  • Become increasingly open-minded. Differ with others as you need to, of course, but avoid being dogmatic.
  • Be attentive to people and the things happening around you. Look for ways to be helpful, even in the smallest matters.
  • Learn how to properly greet others, make introductions, and include everyone present in the conversation.
  • Stay informed about what’s happening in the world. You can’t be an expert on every topic, but you can learn to be conversant in many areas if you’re even a little familiar with current events.
  • Get into the habit of expressing appreciation for the big and small things people do for you.  
  • Learn your table manners—use your utensils correctly and practice basic dining and social etiquette.
  • Attend to your appearance. Dress appropriate for the function you’re attending. First impressions last a long time. 
  • Be careful of the image you project on the internet. Would you want potential employers and other professionals to see it?
  • Avoid gossip and bad-mouthing others. Once you’re deep into the habit, it’s very hard to break.
  • Learn how to network—as in face-to-face, purposeful conversations, especially with people you don’t know.

Insuring a Successful Career Start

You've graduated and landed a good job. After so many years as a student, you're excited about finally getting your career underway. However, you may not have thought much about how important that first "real" job out of college is to a person's long-term success. The transition from an academic culture to a corporate culture, from student life to corporate life—with all of its demands, unclear expectations, unwritten rules, organizational requirements and office politics—can be a shocker. At minimum, it is likely you will experience some bewilderment from time to time as you encounter new responsibilities, tasks and people. The following resources can help give you a heads up regarding the new territory you will be inhabiting.