How many times have you heard that you should have a good work ethic? What does that mean to you? More importantly, what does that mean to professors or employers? A recent survey of hiring managers found that employers believe that professionalism is fading and that students coming into professional venues do not have a strong work ethic. That is unfortunate, because most of the students I meet try very hard to do their best. Could it be that they were never taught about developing a strong work ethic?
In order to develop a strong work ethic, consider the following:
- Show a positive attitude: a sense of entitlement does not mix well with professionalism and a good work ethic. Every class/job has aspects that are frustrating, unenjoyable, and just plain irritating. However, what you do with unpleasant aspects of a situation defines you as a student or professional. Move confidently and cheerfully into a problem-solving mode whenever possible, and avoid complaining about others. You may even help solve problems that you did not cause!
- Never be afraid to do the job below you: I once had a supervisor tell me that she did not get a PhD so that she could bleach tables in a preschool. However, when I found myself as the Coordinator of the Infant & Child Development Laboratories at a university I chose to follow my father’s example of leadership. He stated that people will respect you if you know how, and are willing, to do every job that you expect others to do. I have found that to be very beneficial in my career. Nobody admires a diva! NOTHING is below you.
- Stay focused on the job: US American students have the perception that they can multitask with ease. However, studies have shown that productivity goes down as focus lags. Avoid texting, facebooking, and other distractions when you have a job to do.
- Gather as much knowledge as possible: Know what is expected of you, understand the academic or professional climate around you, review all of the information presented to you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if something is unclear.
- Take initiative: Questions are good, but at some point you should be able to make some decisions on your own. Gather all the information you can and then TAKE A LEAP! Have confidence that you are prepared and knowledgeable and able to complete all the tasks expected of you.
Additional Resource for Developing a Positive Work Ethic: