Starting Your Career on the Right Foot

Hi ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work you go…

Heading out the door to work each day takes more time and preparation than rolling out of bed and heading to class. Here are some tips to prepare you as a professional in an internship or job.

  1. Dress the part:  Time to heat the iron and wear shoes other than flip flops.  Professional dressing means leaving jeans, shorts and tank tops at home.  Invest in professional attire that can mix and match: chinos, pencils skirts, button up shirts/blouses and a sweater or jacket are worth the investment.  Purchase a belt, dark crew socks and comfortable shoes that are not slip on sneakers. It’s a head to toe look which states, “Take me seriously!”

  2. Communicate with conviction:  No mumbling into the phone and don’t start your emails with, “Hey!”  Being a professional means speaking so you can be heard, making eye contact, and shaking hands.  Emails and phone conversations are part of the daily work day, so learn how to start communicating professionally and effectively by viewing our Professional Communication Guide.

  3. “15 minutes early means you’re already late”: Plan your day to arrive at work well ahead of the start time so you can settle in and prepare for the day.  The same goes for meetings and appointments: plan time to get from one event to another so you are on time for all scheduled sessions.

  4. Deadlines are not given extensions at work:  Deliver work when it is due! In the rare instance when more time is needed, communicate with the supervising staff member well ahead of time to request what you need.

  5. Ask for help:  No one expects you to know everything.  Ask questions and keep a notebook with the answers so you can look them up should you have the same question again.

  6. Fill up your day with work:  No need to be bored at work. Talk to your colleagues to see who needs help on projects: phone calls you can make or data to be entered.  In the rare instance you have free time, lend a hand to others.

  7. Say Farewell to Late Nights:  You need to be fresh every working morning, so adjust bedtime.

Going to work as a professional will be a new experience.  As a recent alumna at Penguin Random House Publishing told a group of Emerson  WLP students, “Sometimes you have to fake it ‘til you make it.”  And to this I add, and ask a lot of questions and be positive as you approach the start of each day.

Best wishes!

Mary Federico, Interim Career Advisor at Emerson Career Services

By Mary Federico
Mary Federico