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Professionalism: Interest in One's Profession

1 Overview
I am writing here about a central aspect of professionalism - the interest of the professional in his
profession. To articulate this point more clearly, let me take an example: let's say that I consider myself to
be a technologist and would state that to be my profession. My question is: how do I measure my
professionalism?

What is professionalism? It is many things. It is the sum total of the correct behaviour of a professional. It
includes things like making and keeping commitments, it means ethical practices, and things like integrity
and so on. We have heard of so many values that are attributed to professionalism.

However, I am going to focus on the single, most important aspect of professionalism without which a
person cannot be a professional even if he possesses all the other qualities of professionalism. This aspect is
the profession itself. If I do computer programming for a living, my profession is that of computer
programming. I can be a professional in this field of industry only.
2 Measure of Professionalism
Now, what is the measure of one's professionalism from the point of view of the aspect of a person's
profession alone? Here are the critical parameters:
2.1 Knowledge & Skills
2.1.1 Educational qualification
This represents the formal training that a professional has had in his chosen discipline. It forms the lowest
common denominator of the knowledge expected from a professional. If the educational qualification has
been obtained from a well known and prestigious institute, then it gives further weight to the quality of the
knowledge.
2.1.2 Breadth of knowledge
In all fields of industry, knowledge is growing at a phenomenal pace. Breadth of knowledge represents
awareness of new advances in mainstream practices. For example, online payments have become very
common, so a software professional has to have a good knowledge of this area even though it may not be
an area that he has actively worked in.
2.1.3 Expertise
This represents the detailed knowledge and skill that a professional possesses that allows him to produce
value in his work. This is the basis of credibility for the professional.
2.2 Experience
2.2.1 Maturity
The maturity of the professional represents the scope of the worldview that the professional possesses. For
example, when building a web based system, how much consideration will he give to things like downtime,
response times and so on.
2.2.2 Roles
What roles has the professional played in the profession? Is he a manager or is he a programmer or is he an
architect? Is he a business development person or a client account manager?
2.2.3 Track Record
What is the size of work that this professional has undertaken? Has he only worked on small projects? Or
has he worked on products? Or large projects? What is the size of teams handled? What are the processes
and practices followed?
2.3 Aptitude
Here are some of the factors that represent aptitude:
ability to learn new technologies
clarity of understanding of basic principles
confidence to take on a new technology
ability to adapt to a new role
insights
3 Conclusion
In order for a professional to progress in terms of these parameters, he has to have a great deal of interest in
the profession. Doing a job is one thing. Even doing it well. A professional has to go beyond doing the job
in order to be measured as a good professional. The job must represent a subset of the things a professional
achieves in his professional life: he must be driven by a vision that is bigger than what his job expects him
to do.

The thing that creates interest for a professional in his profession is the belief that he can create value in the
world through his profession. It is the vision of the ability to create value that provides the unflagging
interest in the profession.