In my view, professionalism encompasses not only a wide range of mannerisms and habits, but more importantly also includes an overall mindset that is conducive to promoting oneself as both serious and competent within a specific field or position. In this respect, the most important and fundamental aspect of professionalism is having the right mindset, because a person’s mindset ultimately determines their thoughts, actions, and reactions to other people. In other words, from your mindset springs your thoughts and actions, which in turn affect your expression of professionalism and thus everyone else’s perception of you.
The emphasis placed on teaching and nurturing the professional mindset within our experience with the CAUSE Leadership Academy, especially within the first few weeks, is exactly why I think the work that CAUSE does in promoting professional and leadership skills is so important; it provides a pipeline model which gives Asian-Pacific Islander American students and young adults a space to develop professional qualities and skills necessary to operate successfully in corporate or political settings. We are thus taught about these skills through leadership development workshops and speaker panels, and can put them into practice in networking and also through our work in our office placements.
So far, the CAUSE Leadership Academy program has instilled in me a greater sense of professionalism through specific skills such as taking the initiative in introducing myself to others, discerning opportunities that would be beneficial to me and going for them, learning how to follow up and send thank-you messages to connections that I make, and, most importantly, learning how to work under pressure and manage myself in stressful situations. All these specific professional skills have greatly impacted me and have helped me navigate my work in my office placement.
Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, I have found these skills just as useful and applicable outside of office-professional settings, particularly regarding a favorite hobby of mine – DJing. For context, I have been what is called a “bedroom DJ”, or someone who only DJs in the relative comfort and safety of their home, and posts their sets on social media platforms like SoundCloud, instead of playing live at shows or events. For the most part, I have never planned to play live, and have actually considered putting my secret life as a DJ on hiatus, as I figured my summer would be too busy with all the work and time I would have to dedicate to the CAUSE Leadership Academy program. However, as I gradually learned how to balance my work life with my social life, I have come to realize that art, music, and cultural productions have always been and will always be a huge part of my life. Whatever career path I choose to take in the coming future, whether it encompasses political advocacy or empowerment work, must also encompass the creative and artistic elements of my life as well.
Consequently, I have learned to apply the professional skills I’ve learned through the CLA program so far to my work as a DJ; that is, I reached out to other DJs, producers, and artists within my music collective, networked with them, and finally found an opportunity to play at a live show this past week at a local cultural event. As I performed, I was incredibly nervous and anxious at first, and I did mess up a few times, but through the skills learned through my time with CAUSE, I was better able to handle myself, hone my focus, and push through to achieve a goal of mine.