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Saturday, August 30, 2014 | Last updated: 3:48pm


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Are you preparing to be a professional?






Gunn

Gunn

Editor’s Note: Views expressed in guest columns and letters to the editor reflect the views of the author, not the views of The State News.

Now that the election coverage finally has been expunged from our systems, one word keeps gnawing at my brain — the word, “professional.”

It really doesn’t need an election for the word to come to center stage, but it does seem to reverberate when a whole raft of lawyers and politicians start hammering about their candidate or against each other.

There are numerous qualifications for being a professional, and these are fairly straight forward: being an expert in a field where one is practicing professionally, using excellent practical skills and being a master in the field or producing high-quality work.

These traits are from Wikipedia, the font of knowledge, so I must believe them. But also included are a couple things that raise a few questions: having a high standard of professional ethics, practicing work morale and motivation and appropriate treatment of relationships with colleagues.

One can see they lay a nice course for anyone wishing to be classed as a professional.

But are the people who claim to be professionals really members of that august group?

The criteria I like most of all is “having a high standard of professional ethics.”

When we go to the doctor and are told we need an operation, we hope that Dr. Bob isn’t shooting up some illegal substance minutes before he starts our heart surgery.

We also hope lawyer Sam isn’t dodging a massive number of illegal Cayman accounts as he makes out our latest income tax return. Obviously, these are just silly situations we can laugh at and say, “Oh that never really happens!” and continue on with our daily lives.

But think about the recent past and instances where the ethical behavior of “professionals” should have been called into question.

The photographer who took pictures of Kate Middleton was referred to as a “professional photographer.” I would think from the above considerations that taking pictures of anyone in the privacy of their home or others would be unethical.

If I am laying on the beach in Nice, France, showing off everything I have, it is greatly different from someone peeping in my bathroom window for some scandalous shots.

Come to think of it, is it professionally OK to take those same bathroom shots of my 10-year-old niece?

I wonder what the “professional” would say to the police.

But now we have to take a look at the “professional” journalists and editors who ran the pictures.

I am sure when talking to the custodians in their building — whom these journalists feel most certainly are not professionals — they would comment that journalists always are professional because they are.

Wow! I am, therefore I am! Thank you Mr. Professional Journalist for defining yourself so aptly.

Bond salesmen, bankers, politicians, doctors, ministers, priests, rabbis, coaches, teachers and lawyers — you name it and we can supply any number of categories of “professionals” in the work force.

Are there, in these categories, professionals who stand up and can be counted as ethical practitioners of their profession? Absolutely! If there weren’t any, we might as well dig a big hole, climb in and prepare to go to our maker.

The world is filled with professionals. They march to ethical drums and their every waking moments are filled with high-quality work, concern for their clients, stupendous work morale and a mastery of their fields.

But with all of that, they are even more devoted to ethical behavior.

They are not the jackals who ran Princess Diana to her death, or the characters who feel that any defense offered is ethical in getting a client off.

As the current college generation moves into the full-time work force, there will be more to contemplate than green energy, equality, global warming or the latest iPhone. We have reached a time when the new, young leaders of our world say, “Enough is enough! We are here to bring professionalism back into the real world!”

It is time to come down hard on all those who hide behind the titles they carry, and make them live up to what it is to be a professional — or remove them as one would do with a cancer.

Craig Gunn is a guest columnist at The State News and an academic specialist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Reach him at gunn@egr.msu.edu.


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