Professionalism Expectations

Introductory Comments

Developing professionalism is one of the skills that the Robinson experience emphasizes. The degree of professionalism that you develop in all of your interactions in the GSU community will impact your ability to achieve your goals both in Robinson and in your career. This is true whether you are in a for-profit business, a nonprofit organization, government, or any other context where the organization’s goals are tied to your goals.

In setting out the professionalism standards for Robinson College, an alignment with the real world workplace is always in mind. These standards may be significantly different from what your current habits are. That’s fine; that’s part of why you are here. Developing new habits of professionalism in our everyday interactions, both inside and outside the classroom, is part of what will give you the Robinson advantage.

These are by no means all aspects for the professionalism you will want to work on developing here at GSU and Robinson, but the items mentioned below are all critical elements on the list in both Robinson and the workplace. Your instructors will have specific aspects of professional behavior that they may wish to add. For each and every class, be sure to read the syllabus carefully for these details and expectations. Participation and professionalism are part of your grade in most Robinson classes.


Always remember that classroom sessions and team meetings involve other people who are committing their time to the group experience. Your contribution counts. When you are not at a meeting on time and ready to go you steal time and value from others. Foremost, please make sure that you understand and follow the instructor’s policies regarding attendance, as these are what govern in the classroom. This is no different than what you would do in any job setting.

As a general matter at GSU, you should show respect everyone in the classroom and their time by following these simple rules:

  1. Arrive on time to class and be ready for class to begin.
  2. If you do arrive late, enter quietly and do not interrupt the class. Take a seat closest to the door at a break in activities. Never walk in front of the speaker.
  3. Apologize to the group for your late arrival at a break or when class is over.
  4. Do not disrupt the class by entering and exiting the class meeting while activities are in session. If you will need to leave, inform the instructor ahead of time.
  5. Do not bring visitors into the classroom or the team meetings except with the prior consent of the instructor or your teammates.
  6. If you arrive late, please wait until a break to turn in any assignments due at the start of class, but note that the assignment is “late” and this is something that is not acceptable in the workplace or at Robinson.
  7. If you know that you are going to be late, let the instructor or your teammates know as far ahead of time as possible. (But do NOT send a text to them while driving.)
  8. If you miss the first day of class for any reason, contact the instructor. Explain the situation and ask what needs to be done. Many organizing activities take place on the first day and you want to be in the system when the next class session is held. If you know you are going to miss the first class ahead of time, but be sure to contact the instructor so you are kept on the roster.


We live in an e-world, and it is only going to become more so in the future. That means that we have to consciously be masters of our technology, rather than the other way around. You likely already have the habit of turning off you cell phone in a theater or a restaurant—that’s a good example of how we master the human interaction with technology. In the workplace, the classroom, team meetings, and the like you need to develop more habits like those.

Here are some of the expectations about how you will manage your technology at Robinson:

  1. Unless it is appropriate for the class activity, turn off all electronic devices when you enter the classroom. Use technology only for appropriate purposes.
  2. Your tablet or laptop may be appropriate for taking notes but it is not appropriate for any other activity.
  3. If you need to have a device turned on due to pending personal or business emergencies then a) tell the instructor or your teammates ahead of time, and b) only have it on vibrate or other silent notification mode.

Behavior during Class

When you go to class or meet with a team, put yourself in a mental “meeting mode.” This not only shows respect for the others in the activity who likely want to get as much as they can out of the session but also enables you to be engaged in what is happening. There is nothing worse in a meeting than being asked for your opinion and not knowing where the conversation is or what is being talked about. So focus for the interactions ahead by doing the following at the start of each meeting, whether for a class, business, or your team.

Here are the Robinson expectations:

  1. When the session begins, put away all other work and end your conversations.
  2. Pay attention at all times (questions, liked fouled baseballs, can come at you fast, and they can hit you hard).
  3. Respect those around you; do not talk to others when your attention should be directed elsewhere.
  4. Don’t shout or interrupt. If you have a question or comment, raise your hand and let the instructor work you into the flow of conversation professionally. Remember that listening is more important than talking when you are thinking critically about an issue, so limit your off-the-cuff and irrelevant comments and let others be heard—and really listen to them.
  5. Wait until the class or meeting is ended before packing up your books and belongings. You really want to get into this habit at Robinson to avoid the stare down from the boss when you mindlessly do it in a business setting.
  6. Most business meetings, like most Robinson classes, are held inside temperature controlled rooms. Unless they are being worn for religious purposes, remove jackets and hats or sweatshirt hoods or anything else you may have on your head. Remove your sunglasses and earbuds or other listening devices, unless you require them to participate.
  7. Meeting rooms and classrooms are not diners. Unless expressly permitted (e.g., the “working lunch”) you should not be eating or chewing gum during class.
  8. At RCB your class and team meeting space is your professional space. Respect it by not leaving trash or paper behind when you leave.
  9. Pay attention; no sleeping. Do not put your head on the desk—that’s just asking for trouble. The best way to manage this bit of professionalism is to always mind your calendar a few days ahead. Anticipate your team meetings and class sessions. Then plan and manage your time professionally so you are both ready and rested. That way you will have meaningful contributions to make and you will be alert enough to make them. Whether it’s your participation evaluation in the classroom, team peer evaluation, or your performance review at work, preparation and contribution are the keys to effectively scoring well on these reviews. So make some tough executive decisions about how you will manage your life, and always be rested for your workday.
  10. Be respectful of everyone at all times. How you behave around others is noticed, and in a professional setting it can quickly impact your performance evaluations and promotions.
  11. Please don’t leave a room or meeting while activities are ongoing, except in the event of an emergency. If you anticipate having to leave the room, then tell the instructor in advance and position yourself so as not to be disruptive when you do leave. If you are working with a small group or team, make sure you properly excuse yourself when it is time to leave. This is the same as at work.
  12. When you are giving a presentation, whether individually or as a team, appropriate professional dress is required. Yes, it is true that what is appropriate for a banker is different than for an ad agency executive, but there are standards of professionalism that need to be minded if you are to be taken seriously by the audience. Oral presentations are a very common form of business communication. They place particular requirements on both the presenter and the audience. As an audience member you should always give respect to presenters, ask questions and provide critiques professionally.

Work Product

Also referred to as “deliverables,” they have that title because you are expected to deliver. This is a very firm rule in the workplace; others need your work to be done on time and in good shape. When your deliverables are late others are impacted, sometimes severely. There is zero tolerance in the workplace for late work, and when work is delivered late you will be held accountable.

  1. All assignments must be turned in on time. This is mandatory in life if you want to do well; get in the habit at Robinson and save a lot of grief on the job.
  2. All assignments and projects must be proofread and spell-checked. Nothing tells the boss “I don’t care” or “I think your assignment was stupid” more than a document with egregious spelling and grammar errors. This is another must.
  3. Do not plagiarize. Simply put, you can and often will be fired for stealing intellectual property or representing another’s work or ideas as your own on the job. We take intellectual property rights very seriously here at Robinson, too. Look carefully over all the University and College material on plagiarism and other aspects of intellectual property rights. If you have a question, ask. This is one area where asking forgiveness is NOT better than asking permission.
  4. Do not improperly copy, store, or disclose privileged information. This is “Trust 101” and here too a violation can get you fired in the real world. Whether it happens in the classroom or out interacting with an employer in any context (e.g. field study, research for a project, internship, etc.), you should never reveal private or proprietary information for which you have access or gain knowledge, not even in casual conversations to friends.

Communication with Instructors, Deans, Staff Members, and Other Members of the GSU Community

Find the appropriate time and place for an interaction with any of the above and then follow the Golden Rule.

  1. In your classes your instructor should set forth the procedure for communication. This will include posted office hours (required at RCB for all instructors); instructions on how to make “by appointment” office visits; and when, where and how to contact them via telephone, e-mail, text message or other means.
  2. Do not expect an immediate answer when emailing or texting an instructor. Instructors will endeavor to return your communication within 24 hours. Like everyone else, however, instructor’s e-mails can get buried or otherwise misdirected. After 24 hours a polite follow-up would be appropriate.
  3. Unless invited to do otherwise, all communications should be in a professional tone and format. This means more than just showing that you took the time to use proper grammar, spelling, etc. It means addressing an instructor as Dr. or Prof. and unfamiliar colleagues as Mr. or Ms. In all relationships it is much easier to step down from too much formality in your initial communication than to step up to propriety after getting off on the wrong foot with a sloppy first impression.