Professionalism doesn’t just happen on Tuesday.

On Thursday, I met with our SGA representatives.  We do this once a semester to talk about things of concern to students and to further our mutual interest in providing an engaging experience for our students. Naturally the SGA representatives wanted an update on our new course format ( we call them REAL courses—Relevant, Engaged, Active Learning).  One representative also respectively suggested changing the professional development courses from four to two and having them be two hours each.  He thought it would reduce what he saw as some redundancies in the courses and place the credit hours more in line with the workload.  I responded with only half an answer, noting that one of the reasons we chose to have four courses was because we wanted to have a touch point with students each semester.

What I neglected to include in my answer was why we want a touch point with each student each semester.  I was reminded of this reason Friday when less than half of the 400 students who signed up for Careerfest showed up for the event.  They missed meeting some very influential people.  More than that, they demonstrated that they didn’t understand what we are trying to teach them in our professional development courses.

At the heart of professionalism is doing what you say you are going to do.  When you sign on to do something, you show up with your “A” game. You do this no matter what else is going on, what else you have committed to doing, and how motivated you might feel when you first get up in the morning. If you do this consistently, people come to respect you.  They want to work with you and are glad you’re  on their team.  You are seen as a professional. Eventually, you may even get an opportunity to lead.

When you don’t show up or don’t bring your “A” game, you are seen as unreliable, inconsistent and untrustworthy.  People don’t want to work with you or do business with you. Chances are you will be looking for a new opportunity soon. This cycle will repeat itself until you change your behavior.

This is why we want you to demonstrate professionalism everyday you are with us.  It needs to become a part of who you are.  Just being a professional on Tuesday isn’t good enough… not even close.  So, we have four professionalism classes, not two.  If some of it seems repetitive, it’s because we want you not just to “know” what it is to be professional.  We want you to repeatedly “do” what is professional, so when you leave us, it will be second nature to you. It’s what employers expect and it’s what we expect, too.

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Professionalism just doesn’t happen on Tuesday.

At the heart of professionalism is doing what you say you are going to do.  When you sign on to do something, you do it.  Showing up is necessary, but insufficient.  You show up with your “A” game.  You do this consistently and people come to respect you.  They want to work with you and be part of your team.  You are seen as a Professional. You don’t show up or don’t bring your “A” game with consistency, you are seen as unrealizable, inconsistent and unworthy of trust.  People don’t want to work with you or do business with you.  This is why we want you to demonstrate professionalism everyday, not just in GEB courses or for points.  It needs to become a part of who you are.  Just being a professional on Tuesday isn’t good enough… not even close.