You have a lot to cover during your allotted class time. Though helping students make skill connections to the professional world is something you’d like to do, it may not always be feasible to cover in that time frame. However, there are ways you can quickly drive home the importance of professionalism and career skills without taking up much time.

What are some of your ideas for quick activities, practices, or exercises that emphasize the importance of professionalism in a career? Share your thoughts below.

In the Instructor’s Manual that accompanies Illustrated Course Guides: Professionalism – Soft Skills for a Digital Workplace, First Edition, author Jeff Butterfield shares an in-class activity that you can use as a quick exercise at the beginning of a class period to help instill in your students the importance of soft skills to career success. You may come up with your own variation of the activity that work well for your classroom setting, but by participating your students can learn valuable lessons about looking to the future, paying attention to organizational processes, and making connections.

The textbook says you should “think of your career as a process, not an event,” and goes on to say that “people who are looking ahead, noting changes, and preparing for the next move will be more successful in the long run.” This activity will demonstrate the importance of this advice.
Before class, write on the chalkboard the following instructions:
Step 1: Shake hands with the student to your left.
Step 2: Do not do Step 1 until you have done Step 3.
Step 3: Write your name on a piece of paper and place it on my desk.
Do not call attention to the instructions. Just let class begin as it normally does, perhaps giving the students a few minutes of quiet time. With any luck, a couple of your students will correctly do the activity during this time. Now erase the board without saying anything.
Ask the class what the board said.Explain that there are details and systems unique to each company. They must pay attention and learn these systems, even if no one tells them to do so directly. (Instructor’s Manual, p. 3)

In addition to helping students see the importance of looking ahead, you may even find that, by getting your students thinking and moving at the start of class, you have a more actively engaged audience for the remainder of that time!

Reference: Butterfield, Jeff. 2011. Instructor’s Manual to accompany Illustrated Course Guides: Professionalism – Soft Skills for a Digital Workplace, First Edition. Boston, MA: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.