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Five Vital Tips for Professionalism

Update: In November 2018, Full Sail’s Internet Marketing programs were updated and are now Digital Marketing Bachelor’s, Digital Marketing Master’s, and Digital Marketing Certificate.

Guest post by Melody Austin

Throughout the media and entertainment industries, employers judge prospective employees not only on their skills, but also their reputation.

The process of building credibility begins while students are preparing themselves to enter the business world. By practicing professionalism, you can demonstrate your valuable traits to others – things like intelligence, character, and organization. You want people to associate you with your strengths and positive qualities. After all, you never know who might help you get a job in the future. On the other hand, a negative reputation in these areas could hinder a future opportunity.

Here are a few tips to help maintain strong professional habits that will carry you into your career.

Use Proper Grammar and Spelling. Avoid the use of slang and shorthand among peers and instructors. There’s no room in a business setting for casual jargon. People you work with want to make sure they are dealing with someone who is taking their business seriously. A misunderstanding of “lol”, “u”, and “brb” can cause them to question your credibility on the project.

Avoid Cursing and Using Derogatory Language. If you offend someone, they will obviously not want to work with you. Curse words – whether used as nouns, verbs, or adjectives – are disrespectful and offensive to many people. This doesn’t only go for face-to-face encounters or phone conversations. It’s especially important to avoid profanity in discussion posts, comments, and other online messages. Cursing in writing sends a message that you are intentionally disrespecting the receiver, since most people read over their messages before sending. How is anyone going to trust you with their project and money if you don’t respect them?

Manage Tone and Attitude. Staying cordial and calm is better than letting frustration and anger overtake you in a bad situation. Keeping a calm demeanor is necessary in phone conversations and especially in online messaging. Showing that you can maintain professionalism when it’s difficult can build trust and respectability. Using restraint is important in handling negative situations or disagreements, and holding back is also a good idea when it comes to using humor and sarcasm. Online (and sometimes over the phone), your sense of humor can easily be taken the wrong way. It’s okay to show your personality, but save the charm for a time when you can see the laugh you’re going for.

Remember: Right Place, Right Time. There are many channels available to network with peers and staff online. It is important to demonstrate responsibility in only using these options for their intended purpose. Letting your classmates know about your new beat in the student lounge of your online course is great. However, posting a link to your new business in every open topic on the student discussion boards is abusing the system. People who do this out in the business world aren’t considered professionals; they’re called spammers. The sign of a good networker is someone who believes in interacting more than broadcasting. It’s great to be excited about getting connected, but a professional knows how to connect with the right people.

Prepare for the Unexpected. A professional takes all possibilities into account when planning and making decisions. They persevere and use their problem-solving skills to find a resolution. For instance, a professional realizes they might not hear back from an instructor the Saturday night before a class project is due on Sunday. They take the necessary steps to plan accordingly to avoid this situation. If they do find themselves unprepared, then they will move forward with their best judgment and follow up with the instructor as soon as possible. Being prepared (even if it’s to admit that you messed up) demonstrates that you are mature and adaptable.

It’s easy to forget that professional standards are based on the concept of simply doing the right thing. Treating people with respect and taking your work seriously are part of what it means to be passionate about what you do. Professionals do their best to maintain an acceptable standard, even when they feel those around them aren’t. While they might make mistakes, they understand others will too. Will you accept this challenge to become a better you?

Can you think of any other professional skills worth developing?

Melody Austin has been freelancing in the entertainment industry for more than 7 years. She also serves the Full Sail community as the Online Student Resolution Coordinator. When she is not working on her courses in the Internet Marketing Graduate Certificate Program, she enjoys rock-climbing and the local theme parks.

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