Who to Contact
- SCDC Main Office
Tips for On the Job Success
This section contains:
- Email and Internet Usage
- Professional Behavior ~ On and Off-Site
- Ethics in the Workplace
As a Drexel University Co-op student, you have the exciting opportunity to enjoy gaining valuable real-life work experience at a company within your major. Co-op should be a time of learning, growing, and contributing with other colleagues in your industry. There are a few practices and behaviors you want to consider adopting while on Co-op to ensure that you have a successful and meaningful experience that will make a lasting positive impression on your employer.
More and more companies rely on email to connect with vendors, customers and staff. As a co-op student, your job may involve emailing various internal and external parties to update them on projects, confirm the details of a design, or schedule a follow-up meeting with a buyer. The convenience, ease, and immediacy of email make it the ideal choice for communication in a global economy. However, there are some guidelines that you should follow when emailing or responding to email from staff, clients, your supervisor, or colleagues:
- Avoid abbreviations such as “u”, “ttyl” “lol” etc.
- Follow the same guidelines as your would with a traditional paper letter (use a greeting/salutation, informative paragraphs, concise ending)
- If in doubt, ask a co-worker or your supervisor to review your email before you send it
- Be sure to hit the correct button when replying to an email. Consider when it is appropriate to reply to all recipients of an email and when it is not appropriate
- Watch your tone and word choice when emailing. Capitalization of all letters is actually perceived as “yelling.” Read your email aloud as well as to yourself to see if you are getting your message across clearly
- If you are unsure if your email is professional or you do not know how to reply to an email you received, ask your supervisor or colleague for advice. Consider writing a draft and showing it for approval/revision before you send it to the recipient(s)
- Always use professional language and proper grammar in email correspondence.
- When writing professional emails, don't use any slang or abbreviations that you would use in your personal email to friends
- Don’t use email or the Internet (or the phone, for that matter) for personal use
- Don’t send out spam emails or forwarded emails unrelated to your job
- Use common sense. If you’re considering using email or the Internet for anything that seems questionable, ask your boss if it’s okay. If you don’t want to ask your boss, than that’s a pretty good indication that it was an unacceptable use.
Along with regulating your email, keep in mind that as a Co-op student you are expected to use company resources such as the Internet wisely. Consider the following:
- Your employer can record the amount of time you spend on the Internet.
- The Internet web sites that you visit can be monitored.
- Any e-mails you send or receive, even if deleted, can be retrieved by your employer.
Regardless of what can be tracked, monitored, or recorded, you should treat electronic communications with the same seriousness that you apply to an email or a phone call from an important client. If you have down time during your co-op, consider using the Internet to research industry issues, your company’s competitors or similar topics.
If you have you ever dialed a doctor’s office, business, or even the telephone company and been shocked at the brusqueness of the person who answered, you know the importance of good phone etiquette. The telephone is the life-line of many offices, and you may be asked to receive and place calls on a regular basis. How you relate to people over the phone not only reflects on you, but on the organization you represent. According to Jeannie Davis’ book, Beyond “Hello”: A Practical Guide for Excellent Telephone Communication and Quality Customer Service, “People sense varying levels of anxiety, discomfort, indecisiveness, and insecurity through the sound of your voice. Your ability to represent your organization and yourself in the best possible way is important.” The following telephone courtesy tips should assist you:
- Answer the telephone promptly
- Answer with pertinent information (your company, department, and name)
- If you have to place someone on hold, explain why (Ex., “I’m sorry, I do not handle that but I will transfer you to someone who can help”)
- Be as helpful as you can be if the call is for someone who is not available (Ex., “Mr. Brown is out to lunch, but he is expected back around two o’clock. May he call you then, or is there something I can do for you?”)
- If you do take a message, be sure it is accurate and includes the date, time, name (spelled correctly), and telephone number
- If someone calls you, let them end the call when they are satisfied with the information you’ve provided
- Always announce yourself professionally (Ex., “This is Miss Williams in the Credit Dept” or “This is Mr. Scott of MossRehab Hospital”)
- Don’t eat while receiving or placing a call
- Don’t keep people on hold for a long time —one or two minutes should be the maximum (when you return to the caller, apologize for the wait, no matter how long or short).
- Never use the telephone for personal use
As an employee, you may have the opportunity to accompany your professional peers on business trips. You may possibly be sent alone to represent your company at one type of function or another. Your behavior reflects on the company’s image. It is therefore extremely important that you conduct yourself accordingly, in a professional and responsible manner. Do not overindulge in the occasional “perks” of business, which may include expensed meals (you pay up front and are reimbursed by your employer), car rentals, extra charges to hotel rooms, and social gatherings that include free alcoholic beverages.
Every corporation, no matter how large or small is governed by a set of principles of professional conduct and expectations. These principles or rules, also known as a code of ethics are important elements of a company’s mission, vision, and culture. As a co-op student, it is important that you understand these rules and conduct yourself in an honest, ethical, and professional manner. Your reputation, like the reputations of many companies who have faced both internal and public scrutiny for unethical conduct, depends on you being ethical—during your job search, while working for a co-op employer, and after you graduate. At some time, however, you may find yourself in a workplace situation that creates an ethical dilemma for you.
For you, there are some unethical behaviors that are never tolerated by the SCDC or by co-op employers. These include:
- Abusing sick or vacation time
- Abusing office resources (phone, e-mail, Internet usage, etc.)
- Dishonesty on your time sheets
- Falling asleep while at work
- Failure to notify your employer in a timely manner of an emergency that prevents you from coming to work on time, or at all
- Using the company’s clients, customers, or staff for your own personal gain or profit (i.e. soliciting)
- Taking company supplies
In addition to professional ethics, you should have a set of personal ethics that governs your actions on a personal or social level. Certain practices in the workplace may break your personal code of ethics, and it should not be tolerated. If you have such a situation in the workplace, contact your coordinator immediately. Here is an example of one student who faced an ethical dilemma at work:
Selena was working for an insurance company. The job was to call potential clients to see what kind of coverage their company currently had, in order to make a proposal for new business. The employer's telephone presentation had Pam say she was a Drexel student gathering information for a project. Companies more readily gave information to her as a student doing a class project. Some respondents became angry when they realized they had been deceived in supplying information under false pretenses.
Selena was extremely unhappy during her co-op because honesty was a part of her personal code of ethics, and her employer was asking her to be dishonest. Even more unfortunate was the fact that she endured all of this in silence, and never let her co-op coordinator know she was unhappy, so her coordinator had no chance to discuss the situation with the employer. To make matters worse, as Pam was leaving the job, a new co-op student was ready to start a six-month experience at the same company, potentially facing the same unhappy situation.
Selena’s situation could have been avoided. She could have scheduled a meeting with or called her co-op coordinator and explained the problem. If she had done so, her coordinator could have discussed the problem with the employer, and Pam would have been able to enjoy and learn from her co-op. If you face a similar situation, speak with your coordinator to devise a solution.
Please remember that should ethical dilemmas arise while you are on co-op, your coordinator is available to assist you. He or she can counsel you, offer advice on how to best deal with the situation, or even step in on your behalf if necessary. Therefore, be sure to contact your coordinator immediately with any ethical issues you have in the workplace.
Upon first consideration it might not appear to be directly relevant, but your dining etiquette can affect you professionally. It is actually an extremely important part of the impression you make on your coworkers. A blunder in this area could be enough to keep you from being considered for employment advancement, or from being hired at all. Here are some tips to make your business meals run smoothly:
- Never chew gum. Opt for a breath mint instead after spicy-flavored foods
- Order a meal that is low to moderately priced. Dining with a potential or current employer is a privilege, not a chance for you to splurge at the company’s expense
- Avoid ordering sloppy sandwiches, heavily sauced foods like spaghetti, and food that could linger between your teeth
- Don’t talk with a mouth full of food
- If you are served your meal first wait until everyone has been served, then begin following the lead of your host
- Maintain good posture while eating
- Avoid alcoholic beverages! It is always appropriate to say, “No, thank you.”
- If you’re a smoker, it’s better to decline the offer to do so. Smoking can prove to be very distracting, and you risk bothering non-smokers
- While it may seem a very polite thing to do, do not offer to pick up the tab or leave a tip. If the boss invited you to the meal, he or she plans to pay for it. If you are out with a group of colleagues and they are splitting the tab, contribute your part and share in the tip