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Professionalism on the Job

Today's blog post is written by Jillian Baer, ECS Graduate Assistant

Whether you will be participating in a volunteer, part-time, co-op, internship, or career employment position this summer, you will want to make the best impression possible to ensure a good reference and build your network for future employment.  You are a representative of The Ohio State University as well as the company that has hired you.  This means you must meet professional standards.  Based on a collection of resources, ECS has compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts to consider when managing your professionalism on the job.

Relationships on the job:

  • Do find a respected co-worker to be your mentor and sounding board
  • Do make sure you clearly understand what your supervisor expects from you
    • Check in frequently and ask a lot of questions!
  • Don’t take things personally, but use the constructive feedback as an opportunity for learning
  • Don’t get wrapped up in conversations at work that are unrelated – avoid too much socializing
    • This can depend on the environment, always stay on the conservative side of what the office culture seems to be


  • Do wait until a person is finished speaking before making your point
  • Do know what message you are sending even when you are not speaking
    • Research says that almost 90% of communication is non-verbal – be aware of how you’re coming across
  • Don’t use offensive vocabulary when you communicate in writing or verbally
  • Don’t be afraid to contribute your ideas to your supervisor and co-workers
    • You want to make your opinions known, but know your boundaries!

Time Management:

  • Do arrive 5 minutes before your shift to get settled
  • Do notify your supervisor immediately if you are unable to make a shift or will be late
    • Make sure to give plenty of notice if it is something you can predict (family event, vacation, etc)
  • Don’t be unrealistic about the things you can accomplish in the amount of time available
    • Always be honest with your supervisor in this capacity and keep them up to date on your progress on the job
  • Don’t wait for your supervisor to tell you what to do after you have completed a project
    • Try to take initiative and always reach out for the next step

Shared Workspace:

  • Do ask to borrow items, especially if you are working in someone else’s workspace
  • Do tidy your workspace and replace office items where you found them
  • Don’t download anything over the internet while using a work computer
    • Viruses can cause a lot of damage to network settings
  • Don’t use Facebook and Twitter, watch YouTube videos or open personal email accounts during work hours

Dress Code:

  • Do check with your supervisor ahead of time about the dress code
    • Even if there is no official dress code in place, keep it clean, modest, and conservative at the beginning
  • Do practice good hygiene and be careful with strong scents
  • Don’t wear T-shirts with controversial slogans or ripped or torn clothing – regardless of latest trends or office culture


  • Do check about the eating policy
    • Often it is acceptable to have a beverage or snack at your workstation, but be sure to check with a supervisor or co-worker first
  • Do ask your supervisor for a short break if you find yourself tired or overworked with multiple responsibilities
  • Don’t sleep at your workplace!
  • Don’t eat messy foods or those with a strong odor
  • Don’t wear earphones and listen to music unless specifically cleared by your supervisor
    • This may be seen as inattentive to the task at hand or anti-social


Make sure to also attend the upcoming workshop titled “Differentiating Yourself – the Power of Networking and Professionalism in your Job Search.”  This workshop will be presented by Rockwell Automation and will be presented at 5pm on Wednesday, April 17th in Hitchcock Hall, Room 446.


"Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results.” -James Allen