Professionalism … It’s more than calling yourself a professional


Congratulations! You have officially obtained your education or training and you likely received a degree (or degrees). You may have also had to pass a qualifying exam. Now you are a professional!


A professional fill-in-the-blank. Banker, doctor, writer, scientist, athlete, nurse, lawyer, educator, motivational speaker, hair stylist, etc., etc., etc. …

But being a professional, acting professionally, is a lot more than a word attached to your education and training. It is more than just your job. Professionalism is about going above and beyond, doing what is necessary rather than the minimum requirements. Professionalism is a verb.


Professionalism is every action you perform in public. People are watching you and observing your attitudes, listening to your words, noticing your facial expressions and body language. Even your appearance.


It is the quality of your work…


…as well as how you treat people.

And all of these things come together to define your professional reputation. And your reputation will always precede you. Keep this in mind at all times, or your professionalism may become a question instead of a positive exclamation.


And professionals that choose to behave unprofessionally are often viewed by others as professional idiots. So check yourself.




One response to “Professionalism … It’s more than calling yourself a professional

  1. As a ‘professional’ scientist (I’m still in the ‘Really? They PAY me to do this?’ phase most days), I am currently in a position in which I’m expected to mentor various graduate and undergraduate students. My undergraduate young ladies are thoroughly professional, and have taken our talks about having exactly one chance to establish a reputation in this business very seriously. My two graduate students however… well, they’re a different story. I try not to take it personally, but I finally had to meet with their faculty advisors and explain that I felt that my willingness to help was being abused, since neither graduate student could answer simple questions that I posed when helping with each project. In both cases, the students answered me with ‘I don’t know, what do you think?’ when I asked questions about the basic setup of their projects (How much X do you want to add to Y?). My response was ‘It’s not my project, that’s why I’m asking you, you should know these details.’ Both students were completely flabbergasted when I stopped working and said ‘If you can’t answer a simple question, you need to visit your advisor and review the setup of your project. Let me know when you have that information and we’ll try again.’

    I use these two as examples of how NOT to be a professional for my undergraduates working in the same lab. Moral of the story: being a professional means being prepared, all the time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s