Professionalism: A misunderstood term

Everyday, thousands of students join engineering colleges thinking that they are going to be “Professionals” after completing around four years of course. Once I asked some students the reason behind joining computer engineering in college. One of the answers that I got was “To become professional software developer”. On the other hand, I have noticed students appearing for interviews wearing formal clothes just to show that they are professionals. Not only students, but many times, people working in software companies develop a culture where they won’t call you professional unless you are going to wear formal clothes.

I know these experiences are little funny but they clearly show how people have misunderstood the term “Professional” and “Professionalism”. Once I met one of my friends during office timings and noticed that he was trying to be too serious in his approach. At his home, he used to be pretty humorous. When I asked him about the reason behind his change of behavior, he said he needs to be serious to look professional. So what exactly is professionalism?

While at work, it’s true that you need to follow some dress code and work ethics but that doesn’t mean that being professional is only limited to acting serious and wearing formal clothes. According to an article titled ‘What is a professional programmer?’ by Sarah George, being professional is to have set of qualities like trustworthiness, teamwork, leadership, communication, constant updating of skills, an interest in minimizing risks and accountability.

I completely agree with Sarah George. However, now I have a new question in my mind. Are our professional colleges trying to develop these qualities in students or are they trying to make them pseudo professional by training them with false concepts. When I raised this question in front of related authorities, they simply said it’s the fault of students that they don’t take any interest to learn by themselves.

There are many reasons behind misunderstanding the meaning of professionalism. But it’s our responsibility to leave such misunderstandings behind and develop the qualities described by Sarah George. This will not only help us in developing our career but will also help in the progress of our nation, world and the whole human race.