Kappa Omicron Nu, a collegiate honors society, describes professionalism as the feeling of support an individual has for their chosen profession or an individual’s ability to positively represent the standards of one’s profession. This organization outlines six characteristics of professional style, or “a professional way of being,” as enumerated below.
Being ethical requires having a sound moral standard of conduct, both in personal and professional contexts. This means having the abilities to discern between right and wrong and make decisions that are in the best interest of everyone involved.
Being altruistic involves having a basic interest in the well-being of others. This is specifically important when working in helping/ developmental professions (e.g., medicine and education) or professions that involve large amounts of teamwork. As a professional, one must value the development of their clients and colleagues in the same ways they value their own development.
Being responsible means having an obligation to something or someone. When you are responsible for something, others depend on you, trust you, and will hold you accountable for meeting the needs or tasks you are responsible for. This also means that, when you do not meet your responsibilities, you must explain why they have not been met and how you plan to meet them moving forward.
Being theoretical means that you understand the context and values that shape your profession and apply this knowledge when appropriate. This can be learned in formal educational settings, particularly college, depending on the discipline you choose to study.
Being committed means being invested in something or someone for an extended period of time. As a professional, such devotion is displayed through having an active and engaged interest in continuing to develop one’s professional skills. One can do this by attending professional development events (e.g. conferences and seminars) in their field.
Being intellectual means you are actively and continuously seeking opportunities to learn. This means you are staying abreast of current and new developments within your field and looking for projects or activities in which you can develop or nourish a new skill.