Lessons in Professionalism


I turned off the bathroom sink. Wiping the fog from the mirror, I inspected my outfit—a burgundy sweater over a grey shirt and tie, my favorite tan pants, and new boots. I nodded slightly, satisfied that I was adequately dressed. Pulling my coat tightly around my chest and slinging my bag across my shoulder, I slowly backed out of my apartment door. Reaching a hand into my bag, I ran my fingers over a small stack of papers. Reassured that I didn’t leave my résumés behind, I made my way to campus for the Professional Destinations Expo. A yearly event held by the Office of Career Education, the expo is a one-stop-shop for building yourself professionally—from mock interviews to résumé reviews, a catalog of resources were at my fingertips.

Klein_CareerTo be honest, it was a little intimidating. As I have mentioned before, my transition into adulthood has me a little on edge, and confronting my future so directly makes my palms sweat. As I begin to complete my journey, I piece together the disparate advice I receive from everyone I encounter. Here’s how I’ve begun to develop myself professionally, piece by piece. And, in the spirit of the topic, I’ve decided to rate my own professionalism on a scale using ties.

Looking Good in Person

Three of Five TiesFrom the Expo entrance, I approached a small rack of clothing displaying a particularly nice suit. Curious as to what meeting an image consultant entailed, I approached the table, not really sure what to expect. I was greeted with a firm handshake and a warm smile. After a few introductions, Carol dove into the do’s and don’ts of interviews and meeting employers. From what I discerned, the Public Health sphere requires “conservative” dress, which rules out my favorite tan pants as interview attire. Fortunately, I have two new suits waiting for an opportunity to be worn!

How someone dresses—and how they carry themselves—around prospective employers is a crucial part of securing a job. While someone’s background and experiences are more important factors, the first impression left during an interview can make or break a candidate’s chances of landing the position.

If my conversation with the Image Consultant, Carol, would have been an interview, I think I would have done fairly well.

Looking Good on Paper

Four of Five TiesBidding goodbye to Carol, I made my way to the opposite side of the room for my next stop – a resume review. I took a seat across from a woman not much older than myself, and quickly learned her name was Molly. As opposed to the my extensive conversation with Carol, Molly and I dove right into my resume. I glanced nervously at the fluid movements of the pen in her hand, concerned that she would just draw a large red X across the entire page.

Thankfully, that did not happen.

As Molly skipped from line to line, she marked thoughtful comments in the margins of the paper, giving me brief explanations of improvements throughout. The review became a conversation, and I began to actively ask for her thoughts on changing formatting and content.

At the end of the review, Molly extended the resume across the table with only minor formatting suggestions. Primarily, it was all practical advice like removing my full address and making my name larger. I breathed a sigh of relief and grinned broadly, satisfied that I looked pretty good on paper.

Looking Good Online

One of Five TiesAfter my great experiences with Carol and Molly, I was slowly recognizing a pattern in their advice. Aside from what I mentioned above, they both strongly encouraged me to create a LinkedIn account. I winced as I heard it, as this was not the first time someone had given me this advice. LinkedIn, a professional social media platform used for connecting with others in your field and searching for job postings, is becoming increasingly important in establishing a professional online presence.

Up to this point, I had not created a LinkedIn account nor did I really want one. I saw it as another social media platform that would require constant updates. Honestly, I can’t even keep up with my personal Facebook, so another website to check was not on my priority list.

At least until now.

After talking to Carol and Molly, I quickly saw the benefits of having a LinkedIn. Beyond that, I learned that LinkedIn did not require a large amount of maintenance.

So, I bit the bullet and made my last stop at the LinkedIn profile picture booth at the Expo. At this point, my profile is still in its infancy, but I’m making progress.


Of course, none of these skills would be useful without a job to pursue. After visiting the Careers in Service table, I was able to build my knowledge about opportunities in the Public Health field. I even learned of new opportunities that I had never heard of. Armed with this knowledge, I’m one step closer to life beyond Arcadia.