Next Stop: Your Magazine Dream Job

6 Old-School Professional Rules Still Worth Following

By Amari D. Pollard

Office culture has changed drastically over the last few decades, from the clothes we wear to the technology we use. But while progress is great—and much needed in order to grow—there are certain old school practices that are worth preserving. Keep these rules in mind whenever you’re at the office and you’ll be impressing your colleagues in no time.

1. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.
Office attire has become increasingly casual—to the point where dressing up can seem out of place. Class and sophistication will never go out of style though, so don’t be afraid to wear that impeccably tailored power suit or structured dress. Your outfits have the power to set the mood for your day and can also put your professional intentions on display. Let everyone know you mean business.

2. Remember who you’re talking to.
When you become more familiar with people at work, it’s easy to fall into the trap of speaking to coworkers as if you’re all on the same level. Remember: No matter how close you are with the senior and executive editors, you can’t speak to them like you would a fellow assistant. There’s a certain level of respect and formality that must be upheld. When you get too familiar, you can forget where you stand and that has the potential to get you in trouble.

3. Put down the phone.
Unless you’re a social media editor, you shouldn’t be holding onto your phone as if it’s an extension of your arm. Constantly checking your phone shows a lack of focus and interest in the work you’re doing. Only allow yourself a glance every once in a while, and try not to bring it along to meetings—or if you have to bring it, at least put it face down on the conference table. Bring a notebook to actively take notes and make eye contact with whoever is speaking so they know you’re engaged.

4. Leave your desk for lunch.
The modern lunch break usually involves eating at your desk and not taking a real break at all. You might think that makes you a hardworking employee, but in fact, stepping away during your lunch break will actually help re-energize you and make you more productive later on. So go for a walk, eat in the park, or grab coffee outside the office with a coworker. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready for the rest of your day.

5. If you’re on time, you’re actually late.
I try to arrive to every work-related occasion at least 15 minutes early. That extra time will let you set up at work before a meeting or give you a little leeway in case you get lost on your way to that coffee date. Being punctual provides structure and proves how reliable you are. Be that employee who is always there when needed and you’ll be sure to stand out.

6. Show your appreciation.
It’s always nice to show gratitude to your co-workers during the holidays or when you’re moving onto another job, but you don’t need a special occasion to let them know you value their work. Random acts of appreciation can go a long way. So use your observation skills to pay attention to a coworker’s coffee order and when you grab your morning coffee, grab them a cup too; or share some of your event swag goodies with a fellow intern. It feels good to share the love, right?

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