September 25, 2018

Workplace Capabilities: Don't be Milton or Nina

By B&SC Career Services Team


One of the workplace capabilities listed in all of the supplemental syllabi is attitude. Why is this listed on a syllabus? How is this addressed in a classroom setting, especially in online learning? A great way to think about attitude is to think about what kind of people you would like to work with. Is it more pleasant to work with someone who is friendly and ready to tackle projects, or someone who is sarcastic and grumbling?  Why wait until graduation to be the kind of employee that employers want to hire?

The classroom setting, whether online or in person, offers great opportunities to practice cultivating a positive attitude.  In interactions with peers and instructors, being polite and positive will make your personality shine.  It isn’t necessary to be overly chipper or falsely positive, however taking the time to reign in negative reactions will demonstrate a level of maturity employers value. Read the following short article for more ideas about how attitude impacts the workplace:


A related workplace capability also listed on supplemental syllabi is enthusiasm. Again, being over the top and inauthentic can be a turn off. Remember Nina, the perky accountant from the movie Office Space?

However, being eager to work, especially on a new and challenging project, sets you apart from others in the workplace. When employers are considering employees for a promotion, a person with a positive, enthusiastic attitude is more likely to be considered over an employee with similar skills and a less positive attitude. While it may seem challenging to convey these attributes in an online setting, there are concrete ways to accomplish this. Enthusiastic students email instructors to introduce themselves, post early in the discussion week and are polite and friendly in interactions with instructors and peers. In contrast, students who complain about coursework or are less than professional are damaging their relationships with others and missing a valuable opportunity to practice a positive attitude.

Interpersonal Skills

Both of these capabilities are related to interpersonal skills. Remember Milton from Office Space? No amount of productivity would compensate for his painful lack of social skills.

In our virtual world, we all have to try harder to work on interpersonal skills. Making eye contact, paying attention to the non-verbal cues of others and using reciprocity in conversation is essential for success in the workplace.  If a co-worker asks you about your thoughts on a project, reciprocate the question after answering it. Reciprocity can easily be accomplished in an online setting.

Making a conscious effort to be enthusiastic and personable will make you shine as a job candidate, and ensure you make some great friends along the way!

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