Professional e-mail advice for students

By Molly Kearney
November 13, 2008

Shannon Keough

The professional world relies on e-mails to send messages to co-workers nationally and internationally.

At one moment e-mails are being sent. E-mails can be sent to friends, professors, family and employers. The two most important of that list are your professors and employers. As a student, one must know how to conduct themselves appropriately and properly in an e-mail.

Everyone uses e-mail as a tool of communication, but sometimes this tool can ruin you and your reputation. At some point in your life you will send out an e-mail that either wasn’t meant to be sent to someone or it is filled with typos. No one wants to read that. Missent e-mails have become the online equal to dialing the wrong number.

In order to understand what is going on today, we must look into the past to when e-mails became a part of professional life.

Jody Romano, alumni director, has a background in the professional world and says originally e-mails were used for internal communication within a company. The business world set the standard for protocol by taking what they knew from professional letter writing and used those standards.

Romano explained that e-mails are less formal when writing to a friend. Romano explained that she has a formal tone to her e-mails and she waits for the response back to set the tone. She recommends that as a way of writing a professional e-mail.

Romano also said the most important thing is to remember to be very careful when forwarding an e-mail in the professional world. People have lost jobs for forwarding joke e-mails in that setting. This standard holds true within the Cabrini community.

Take time to proofread your e-mails and do not specifically rely on spell check. Possible employers may take offense to your poorly written e-mail.

Nancy Hutchison, director of co-op and career services, said the most important thing for students to remember is that you are writing a professional letter; keep that in mind even though it is over e-mail.

Also, keep your e-mail address professional such as using your first and last name not some kind of nickname that could be offensive.

“This type of communication is open to everyone, so people need to write accurately and not state anything that they don’t want someone to see. People can’t write in stream of consciousness without punctuation and taking shortcuts such as i for I and u for you.” Hutchison explained that those elements are key.

Hutchison also stressed that people must be certain they have the correct email address in the “To” box. One must remember even though this communication is over e-mail it is professional communication and one is being judged by what one writes, even if one cannot be seen.

Daryl Ruis, senior marketing major, knows the importance of writing a professional looking e-mail. Her father works in human resources and taught her. Ruis said it is important to be proper and professional. It also gives you an advantage in the work world.

Ruis recommends that if you are a current senior you should know how to write a professional e-mail by second semester.

Ruis’ most important piece of advice that professional e-mails will help you to handle yourself in your career. As a professional, you can only rely on yourself to get ahead in your career.

Monica Burke, senior communication major, said that it is always a challenge to maintain professional format in everything you do, especially when writing an e-mail. Burke also went on to say that because e-mail is viewed as informal that one must be courteous.

Burke expressed that possible employers may come across a resume via an e-mail that is unprofessional and may brush it off.

Burke said that e-mail is the way of the future and eventually employers must catch up but as for this time, make sure to e-mail your resume properly.

Molly Kearney

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