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Professionalism and Authenticity: How to find a Balance?

Professionalism and Authenticity: How to find a Balance?

Right now, for myself and other second year IBCoM students, the time has come to find an internship. It is our first taste of what work life is actually like, and how we might deal with the job market. This can seem intimidating, considering the fact that some of us might have never done this before. That is why we have received different types of workshops for this process, which could be very helpful for us. However, one thing I am personally concerned about is how I come across as the perfect intern, whilst being my authentic self? 

Professionalism is crucial when it comes to the job market. It is important to have the right skills, and to present yourself in such a way which aligns with the company’s values. We must come to the work floor, in some cases, adhere to a particular dress code, and other important rules which are required by the company you work for. One thing we must consider, is that this might not always be in line with our own ideas. If we present ourselves in such a way which is more preferable to the company, and less in line with our true selves, is the internship even worth it in the first place? 

The tension between professionalism and authenticity is something I find rather tricky. As a possible intern, you want to present yourself as  the perfect candidate for your preferred company, which requires both authenticity as well as professionalism. On one hand, we must show a side of our authentic selves in order to stand out from other candidates, whilst simultaneously adhering to the rules and values of the company. But on the other hand, this will sometimes come with some sort of inauthenticity, as we cannot display every part of ourselves at work  or during an interview. There are some parts of ourselves that simply do not fit the work environment. For example, our personal lives are a part of ourselves that we prefer not to share at work, because this is deemed as ‘unprofessional’. 

So, how do we get the position we want, whilst being genuine and staying true to ourselves and our personal values? Firstly, I believe it is very important to stay true to yourself, and to be aware of the world around you. Do your research on the company you want to work for and see if you fit within the culture. Once you have done this, try to find a balance between who you are as a person, and the person you want to be on the workfloor. Be conscious of who you are, what the workfloor requires of you and see if you are able to be in such a position. If you are not, that is also completely fine, because there are many different companies  out there who share different cultures. So no worries, there will be a place where you will fit in! 

Author: Danisha Carron

Editor: Gwendolyne Cheung

Illustrator: Roos de Waard

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