Field Study Student Resources : Professional Etiquette


A Few Tips

Here are some tips to ensure you are making a positive first impression:

  • Shake hands and smile as you greet people. Have a firm handshake to demonstrate confidence
  • Look people in the eye when you are talking to them and demonstrate open body language
  • Try to remember people's names. You may wish to make notes after meeting people with names and context
  • Arrive on time! It is always impressive to arrive a bit early to work and meetings. Tardiness and absenteeism signal disrespect for others’ time and a lack of interest in the work. If you cannot avoid running late, let your supervisor know
  • Dress appropriately for the position. If you are unsure about dress code, ask your supervisor or human resources

Overall Tips

  • Be willing to work. Learn to deal with “gofer work” and some down time—internships are not always glamorous. Perform even routine tasks well.  Don’t think that any work is “beneath you.”
  • When beginning a new position, be an observer. Learn the company culture and respect others prior to making judgments 
  • Treat others with kindness and respect
  • Be careful with your topics of conversation; avoid discussing politics, religion, and money
  • Keep learning more everyday. Learning helps everyone, regardless of your professional status. There will always be someone who is willing to consistently learn more about the preferred skill and those are the ones who advance quicker and stronger.
  • Confidence in your skill, knowledge, and personality can separate you from the next best person. Nobody likes an overly confident show off but being able to be confident in yourself and your skills in a professional way stand out more than you may think. Don’t show off and brag about the accomplishments the company already knows about, instead, show them how you were able to accomplish those things by your personal skills. Let them become impressed by craft not by bragging
  • Get to know your boss and see how she/he gives feedback. If you feel like you would like more feedback, don’t be afraid to ask.




  • Make sure your phone is on vibrate or "Do Not Disturb"
  • Your employer and colleagues should be your #1 priority, not your phone calls, texts, or emails. Find out what the office policy is regarding phone/email use in the workplace. Some may not allow a phone to be visible or used during your workday
  • When answering phone calls:
  • Before picking up the receiver, discontinue any other conversation or activity, such as eating, chewing gum, using the computer, etc.
  • Refrain from using speakerphone and try to wear headphones or earbuds
  • When at all possible, answer promptly (before the third ring), and announce your name and company
  • If a caller is rude or impatient, stay calm and always show a willingness to resolve the problem or conflict. Adopt a consistent friendly tone, and smile
  • Let the caller finish talking before answering or asking follow-up questions. At the end of the call, make sure to summarize everything that was said, and state future steps
  • Thank the caller for their time

  • Business emails should always use formal language (no texting language and emoticons). Use proper punctuation, and make sure that your tone is professional
  • Use standard fonts and formatting.
  • Always include salutations and closings in emails
    • Hello Mr./ Mrs.,
    • Best Regards,
  • Utilize the subject line of emails to include a short and specific description of your message
    • E.g., Update on Project
  • Consistently send and respond to business messages within business hours
  • Double-check your recipient's name and email address. Be very careful with "Reply All" and "BCC"
  • Shorten URLs by including as attached links to text instead of inserting the entire link into the body of the email
  • Mention what your attachments are
    • E.g., "I am attaching a file of my progress report"
  • Always double-check spelling, grammar, punctuation, and content before sending
  • Respond to messages and emails during normal business hours, and try to respond ASAP

  • On social media profiles, remain professional and avoid posting inappropriate comments or photos
  • Use online search engines to check your online presence, and see what shows up
  • If you wouldn't say it in person, don't say it on social media