Being a teacher is a very professional job. I’d say ranked up top along with lawyers, doctors, police officers, etc. It’s ranked that high specifically because we have expectations to be professional all the time because we are preparing the youth of the world how to grow up to be professional adults. Get a job, go to college, stay out of prison, etc. I mean that doesn’t fall on our shoulders. Home life has a big impact. But what I’m saying is our image is always judged. We are supposed to be professional all the time.
I used to have an unhealthy obsession with being professional. It’s like I couldn’t live a normal life or else I would never find a job. I felt like I was being watched and judged all the time. A lot of that was engrained in my head back in college. From professors but also from my sorority, which was a professional music fraternity that held high values for how we think and act.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the opportunities I got in college and in my fraternity, but it also lead to unhealthy obsessions with how I live my life. Now that I am in the “real world” I have developed seven tips on how to be more professional if your career is held on a high pedestal for how your carry yourself and your image.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
When I first got my job, I was participating in two community ensembles, running this blog all while preparing for the holidays. Now, I still have my same job, I picked up some extra paid gigs on the side, still running this blog, and the two community ensembles are asking me to come back for 2019. I’m saying no. It’s okay.
Don’t be afraid to say no. I did my holiday commitment with them, now I need to make sure I’m doing all I can to be successful at my new job while maintaining my mental and physical health. If you don’t have enough time and energy for something, say no. Those people will appreciate it way more that you were open honest about not having the time or energy to do it, then agreeing to do it and doing a mediocre job or worse, bailing after you commit. Don’t be afraid to say no, you will appear way more professional.
Treat Conflict With A Smile
With any job you take, there is going to be conflict. There will be situations that frustrate you or there will be situations that you will not agree with but they have to happen anyways. Instead of blowing up and forcing your opinion on a situation you know won’t work in your favor, just nod and smile and make the most out of the situation. That is true professionalism.
Things will run a lot more smoothly at work if you just let go with a smile on your face. People will think, “Wow she handled that very professionally.” Now if you blow up at your colleague because they said something you disagree with, storm out of the room and talk badly about them to all the rest of your colleagues, well then you will be known as uptight girl in the break room.
I find that I learn more from things I don’t agree with. I know the powerful thing to do is to stand up for what you believe in, but the professional thing to do is smile and learn from the conflict.
Buy a planner, take notes, write down your appointments, and don’t miss anything. I mean mistakes happen, but constant missed appointments, especially in your work place is a red flag that this person is unreliable. Stick to your planner, stick to your appointments and be organized.
Watch What You Say & Do.
The thought was pressed in my brain that I’m not allowed to go out and have fun with my friends. I’m not allowed to drink wine at a restaurant with friends or even my family, even though I’m clearly older than 21. But that’s not professional.
Not true. It’s only unprofessional if you make it unprofessional. If you go out with your friends, order a glass of wine and say/do inappropriate things, yeah that’s unprofessional. You may think, oh there’s nobody around. Wrong. You don’t know if there may be a parent around, or a colleague around, or maybe a person on a hiring committee of a job you want to apply to way distant in the future that will remember your face because you were the one dancing on tables cursing over and over again in a club back in 2016. You just don’t know.
Now you do you. If you want to party your hearts content with friends, do it behind closed doors. Limit pictures on social media. Assume that they will be found. What I’m trying to say is, you’re still a human. If you want to go out to dinner and order a glass of wine, do it. But refrain from talking negative about anyone or anything work related in public. You just never know.
Dress For Success
This used to be something that would really bother me in college. When people would wear PAJAMAS to class. If you are reading this and you do this, if there is anything you can take away from this blog post, it is to stop doing that. Trust me, when I had an 8am, it’s hard to find an effort to make yourself presentable in the morning. But please put on leggings, and a sweater. That’s just as comfortable. Take off the pajama pants.
Why? Because you never know who you might see that could greatly impact your career. At my college, our professors were all well known musicians and educators that brought in well known musicians and educators on a weekly basis. Student teaching supervisors, principals, teachers around the USA, visiting college professors, business associates, and/or literally any professional person were there all the time. I did not want to be known as pajama pants girl if I was ever in front of any of them for a job interview.
Dress for success does not mean wear a dress and high heals every day of your life to work. But when you get up in the morning, think “would my boss approve of this?” If you have any hesitations about it, then maybe it’s not something you should wear.
Never Bail On Commitment
I talked about this in my first point. But yeah, never bail on a commitment. It makes you look unreliable. If you agree to something but then halfway through it realize you don’t have the time and energy to complete this and the work you have to do is hurting you. Just take a deep breath, do some self care exercises, take out your planner and figure out how to make it work. But never quit. As soon as you finish your commitment and they ask you to do it again, sure you can say um absolutely not. But for now, make it work. It’s the professional thing to do.
Start In College
Lastly, start in college. That is where all the networking begins.
I hope you all enjoyed my tips on how to be more professional. Being professional is important but the most important lesson to take away from all of this is to also be human.