When going through the job or internship search, present yourself as someone ready for employment and the responsibilities that go with it. Whether your future opportunity involves working with children, clients, patients, or coworkers, your employer will be looking for someone who can interact with others in a professional manner. This means being polite, engaged, and respectful of everyone you interact with. Put yourself in the shoes of the employer and imagine what they would expect of your behavior. In general, a lot of the advice below is about honoring your commitments, being respectful of people and their time, and acknowledging that a work environment is likely to be more formal than your student life.

Event RSVP/Registration

When you sign up for an event, the expectation from the employer/organizer is that you are planning to attend. It is not just an “interested” designation like on some social media. They will order food and make other arrangements based on your registration.

  • Only register if you are confident you will be able to attend.
  • Cancel your registration if you are no longer able to attend.
  • If it is too late to cancel, contact the organizer directly (email is fine) if there is an emergency that prevents you from attending.
  • If you register for an employer event (like an information session) in Crimson Careers, the employer will have your name and information. “Ghosting” the event (not showing up without any explanation) could hurt your chances for an opportunity with that organization. A polite email could be all it takes to prevent this.


  • Use your Harvard email – it verifies that you are a Harvard student. If you are forwarding to another email, make sure you periodically check your promotions tab or other places an email may get stuck.
  • Check your email regularly. Students have missed employment and summer funding offers because they weren’t checking their email carefully.
  • Reply to email the same day it was received whenever possible.
  • Make sure your emails are businesslike with proper grammar and punctuation.
    • Do not begin an email with “Hey.” Use “Dear” or “Hello” as your greeting.
    • If you cut and paste from another email or document, be sure that all your text is in the same font and size.
    • Revise your email signature to something appropriate for correspondence with employers and alumni.
      • Example student signature:
        Ifeoluwa T. Obayan
        Harvard College Class of 2019
        A.B. Candidate in Biomedical Engineering and Social Anthropology
        Vice President, Harvard College Nigerian Students Association


  • Set up your voicemail, and make sure your outgoing voicemail message and ring back tones are straight-forward and professional.
  • Check your voicemail regularly so an employer never gets a message that your mailbox is full.
  • Reply to voicemail the same day it was received whenever possible.
  • Remember to return voicemails with a phone call – take the cue from the employer as to how they want to communicate with you. If you can’t reach the employer by phone, leave a message and then follow up by email to schedule a conversation.


  • What would happen if a recruiter Googled you?
  • Edit what you have on Facebook and other social networking sites and update your security settings.
  • Be proactive about your online presence by setting up a professional LinkedIn account.

In Person

  • Dress professionally – see the MCS Professional Attire Guide and Dress for Success information below for more details.
  • Be on time, which means you should plan to be 10-15 minutes early to be safe.
  • Have a firm handshake when you meet or greet someone and make eye contact when you’re speaking with them.
  • Be able to briefly tell someone about yourself. Students often start with what they study and what they’re interested in. This is sometimes referred to as the “elevator pitch,” but is briefer in a networking event than in an interview.
  • Be curious and ask questions.
  • Send thank-you emails following in-person interactions.

What is Professionalism?

Workplace and Communications

Dress for Success

Appearance is an important aspect of the impression you make with a current or future employer. We encourage students to attend all campus recruiting events in business casual or “smart” casual attire as described below. Students should plan to wear corporate attire to interviews unless otherwise instructed by the employer. For more tips on how to dress for professional events, please consult the MCS Professional Attire Guide.

Business or “Smart” Casual (recommended for employer events and career fairs)
  • khakis, dress pants, or skirt

  • button-down long-sleeve shirt, sweater set, or blouse

  • have a blazer handy
Business Formal (recommended for interviews unless instructed otherwise by the employer)
  • dark suit with a light shirt or tailored dress

  • conservative tie/simple jewelry

  • dark/polished closed-toe shoes

Women’s Business Formal Vs. Casual

Men’s Business Formal Vs. Casual