Professional: a noun, an adjective, a status or a lifestyle. It can mean so many different things in our world today. However, in the general workforce I believe it means to have a sense of overwhelming respect and pose for yourself as well as your peers. As young women it can be difficult to find the balance of being a professional while still developing your craft and growing up. Instead of researching and forming my opinions and tips on professionalism, I interviewed someone in my everyday environment who beams of confidence and respect for herself, her peers and her mentors and educators. I decided to ask someone who, to me, lives the SGG mission of Be Smart Share Smarts.
Sarah Stein is a Junior Marketing major at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. She is involved in many different aspects of student life such as: serving as the Vice President of Emerson’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and as the President of Alpha Epsilon Phi, Beta Alpha Chapter just to name a few. Sarah, while sharing her developed work ethic and leadership around campus, has also interned for NBC Universal studios with the Today Show for the past two summers. She has most recently accepted an offer to be apart of the renowned NBC Universal Page Program and she will begin this amazing opportunity next year. Sarah defines what it means to be a Smart Girl by sharing her smarts and influences others to do to the same. Below you will find an interview I conducted with Sarah regarding her overall work ethic and what professionalism means to her!
Where or from whom did you learn your work ethic?
I think my parents, but especially my dad. My dad is a really hard worker. He is also really respected by the people that work for him, which I think is an amazing quality to have. I think it’s really difficult to be a leader, and also have people respect you, but one thing my dad always taught me is when you’re doing work, and I think this really applies in a leadership standpoint in a business. That’s what I want to do eventually, and he says you should always act like an owner rather than acting like an employee, which actually is funny because it’s on the back of the NBC ID badge, it’s our credo, and then it’s all of these quotes, and one of them is “act like an owner”, which I think is really smart because you then become more invested in what you do because you are acting like you own it.
How important do you think your “image” is as a person, and the way you present yourself on the outside, rather than the inside?
As hard as it is to say we live in a very visual world, what you project is almost what you accept. I am definitely one of those people where if a person was going to interview with me or I was going to hire someone, and they came in looking like they just rolled out of bed, I would probably think they just rolled out of bed. If you’re a genius or qualified it might trump that, but I think it’s important to present yourself the way you want to be perceived by someone. I do not think there is any harm in putting your best foot forward.
What qualities should a person possess to succeed or do well in a working environment?
I think for people to be open to criticism, especially soft criticism, is really important. Maybe I think that because I am just one of those people that does not like being coddled. I respond well to criticism, I do not take it too personally, so I think when you’re able to do that when someone says you did something wrong and now do it this way. You’re able to realize I am able to learn from this, and understand to never do it the wrong way again, it just shows that you are a good listener. It shows you’re eager to learn, and be apart of the team. I think that letting yourself get wrapped up in criticism is a sure fire way to unravel. I also think it’s important to be passionate about what you’re doing, I think when you care about what you’re doing it shows in your work. It also makes your work more fun and enjoyable.
What is your best advice to professional young women who are trying to succeed in a workforce that is dominated by older generations?
I think letting your capability and your work ethic speak for yourself. I think it’s more important to let your work speak for you, and make it be that you cannot go unnoticed. I think acting very professionally; coming to work in the appropriate attire, and making them feel comfortable. At the end of the day, they currently hold the cards, and eventually you will and you can do things differently when you’re on top. I think respect is really the key, whether it’s wearing more formal attire and doing anything that you can do to make their lives easier, and in the long run to make your own life easier. It may be work upfront, but you will succeed faster. I think just always lending a hand when you can, and making your work an invaluable resource to them because everyone appreciates hard work no matter what age you are.
Do you have any role models, fictional or real, that you look up to and try to emulate in their work and professional ethic?
First my big (Big in Alpha Epsilon Phi), Micah Murphy . We both want to do similar things, but she is more into film and I am into TV. She is just really hardworking and a go-getter. She is not a afraid of taking risks, she is not afraid of being the exception or being the first one to do something, which I think is really admirable. Then someone who is fictional and, well, real is Mindy Kaling. I think she has an amazing spirit about her. She is passionate about what she does. She wants to make the space that she is more inviting for other people who are like her, which is awesome! One of my favorite quotes is from her book, I actually have it on my wall, “Why the f*** not me.” She is basically saying I want to be the exception not the rule. I think that is really cool. We live in a world where we have the opportunities to create experiences for yourself, and Mindy definitely does that. She does not let any opportunity get away from her.
Define professionalism in your own opinion.
I think professionalism is defined by being respected by your professional peers. Also when you have knowledge in your field. I think its important to know what you’re doing. You should know about it because you want to know about it, which goes back to my comments on being passionate. You should want to know about your field because you are passionate about it, and that you want to know more. I think not having that innate questioning ability, and the want to know more about what your doing is, you can’t really learn that.
What does being a Smart Girl mean to you?
I think it means someone that is like aware of what is going on around them. Whether it’s social or cultural things, and the basic knowledge of what you’re doing. When I think of someone who is really smart, I think of someone who is aware of what is going on, which is difficult because there are so many things whether its personal or on your phone. I think when people are aware of their surroundings and can adapt to different situations that means they are a smart person.