Rooted within nearly every young professional, there is a common fear: am I being taken seriously?
Whether you are an intern, or you just landed a new job fresh out of college, you probably feel like you have something to prove.
As a student journalist, when I need to schedule an interview with the mayor, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, or any professional with a busy schedule, it is critical to exude my professionalism in order to gain his or her respect.
I found respect is also especially crucial when in the beginning stages of starting a new organization. Zeta Phi Eta at UCF is a young organization and in order to be taken seriously by the university, by our peers, and by our members, professionalism must be displayed at all times by the fraternity as a whole.
The phrase “respect is earned, not given” does have merit to it. Although by no means do I know everything there is to know about being a professional, there are some valuable lessons I’ve learned that have taken me a long way in terms of my experienced growth.
- The first impression leaves the biggest impression
No matter who it is you are introducing yourself to, a firm handshake, a genuine smile and maintaining eye contact says so much more about you than just simply stating your name. A meaningful introduction demonstrates an interest in that person, it shows your respect, which in turn will make that person more willing to respect you.
- Do your research
If you’re applying for an internship or job, it’s important to know the mission statement of that company or organization. Know their goals, know who their CEO is, and know the fine print details of the position you are applying for.
If you’re pitching an idea for your job, prepare yourself more than you think you need to. Think about what questions your boss might have for you, and prepare those answers.
- Stay updated on current events
If you can offer an intelligent opinion on world news, business, sports or pop-culture, than you already look better than the person who remains silent. Employers and professionals find it refreshing to see someone who can engage in a thought-stimulating dialogue.
- Balance confidence with humbleness
Confidence may command respect, but humility will earn it. The ability show what you know and being willing to learn what you don’t proves that you are constantly developing as a professional.
Ultimately, if you can carry yourself in a professional demeanor, stay well informed, and keep an open mind you will be taken seriously. With the respect of your employers and peers, your opportunities are limitless.
– Lisa Kauffman