Tips for Professionalism from a New Binghamton Graduate

Posted by Melissa Wickes on May 24, 2017

Whether you're a graduating senior looking for that first post-grad step like myself, or want to boost your resume with some solid internship experience, it is important to know how to conduct yourself professionally. Here are some tips on how to best prepare yourself for a job, internship, interview or anything in a professional setting.

First Impressions

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If you’re looking to play a certain part, it’s important to dress it. You wouldn’t get on stage to play the role of Peter Pan without your tights, would you? All job environments require different attire, but an office job often calls for business-professional. For women, this means a dark suit, blouse, polished heels and neat hosiery. Men should also wear a suit with a pressed white shirt, conservative tie, black leather belt and polished leather shoes. Make sure your hair is neat, and keep a breath mint on deck! No one wants to hire the guy who smells like onion rings.

Develop your vocabulary, keep good posture and eye contact, and don’t forget to smile! Make them believe that you’re actually interested in everything they are saying. (Because if you want the job, you should be.)

Elevator Pitch

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually need to be standing in an elevator to give an elevator pitch. If you were to run into your dream employer in the produce section of, say, Wegmans, what would you want them to know?

Be sure to identify your goal, explain what it is that makes you different/ qualified for what they may be looking for, and to engage them. If you want, you can end with a question about their company. 

Here's an elevator pitch example for myself:

"My name is Melissa, I am a senior graduating from Binghamton University in May. I have ample experience in writing, editing and public relations, from multiple internships and writing for various publications. I would bring a creative drive and strong editorial skills to your company, as well as an eagerness to learn."


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Don't go into an interview unprepared. Research the company, research the position, research the interviewer! The more prepared you are going in, the less nervous you will be.

Know why you're right for the position and convince the interviewer the same. Know what questions they're going to ask you, and know what questions you want to ask them.


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Email and phone communication are equally as important as in-person communication. 


Email communication is hard to nail right away because it feels super informal when in reality it shouldn’t be. It’s not instant messaging, so don’t BRB or LOL. Make sure you proofread for grammar, be concise, and think before you send. Also, be sure to avoid using email addresses that provide an unprofessional image. When I started contacting companies to apply for my first internship, I knew it was time to ditch “” and make a new, more professional email.


70% of your initial impression on the phone is in your tone of voice, the other 30% is the words you say. Speak with a smile in your voice, make sure you’re in a quiet place, be prepared to take notes, and please if you know what’s good for you, don’t eat while you’re on the phone!

Resumes and Cover Letters

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Contrary to what you may think, most employers spend about thirty seconds reviewing your resume, so make them count! Keep in mind, make your accomplishments sound like accomplishments, not a laundry list of experiences.


Bad example:

Intern at the Binghamton University Department of Media and Public Relations

Posted to social media, shared blog content, general intern duties.


Good example:

Media and Public Relations Assistant at Binghamton University

Assists the department of media and public relations in producing news releases, posting to the university blog, updating social media, and live coverage of university events. Wrote the top shared article in a 1-year period.

Cover Letters

Writing a cover letter seems like a daunting experience, but it's actually really straightforward. Address the hiring major, write in a professional and polite tone, and avoid negative phrases like "I don't or "I haven't." Make sure you learn about the position and the company and go on to explain why you are more qualified than anyone else to fill it.

Check out the Fleishman Center's Resume Writing Quick Reference Guide for more details!

Social Media

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We’ve all heard it a million times before: what you put on the internet is forever. No one is saying to delete your Facebook and dodge the background of photos for the rest of your life.

However, when applying to jobs and internships, you want to portray yourself as professional as possible online. Watch what you say, what pictures you post and what you are sharing to the public. Brush up and update your LinkedIn with experience, skills and a professional photo. In other words, take less photos with red Solo cups and more photos with a suit and tie. There are currently 467 million users on LinkedIn, and 94 percent of recruiters use social media to fill open positions.   

Melissa Wickes is a recent graduate from East Williston, N.Y., majoring in English--creative writing. She was a member of the a cappella group The Vibes, Alpha Epsilon Phi and she enjoys exploring new cheeses in her spare time.

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