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“I Totally Forgot”: How to Fix Common Etiquette Mistakes

All types of college girls—athletes, business majors, student journalists, and the lead actress in the spring production—seem to strive for perfection. If we make one little mistake, we stress about it for days. But relax ladies, because Her Campus has expert advice from Carol Spector, the director of career services at Emerson College, on how to fix all your little etiquette slip-ups, because yes, they happen to everyone.

 The Mistake: You completely miss a meeting you’ve scheduled with your professor—and it’s too late to try to still make it.

The Fix: Notify the professor as soon as you realize what happened, either through phone or e-mail. Apologize, let the professor know you have been swamped (without whining!), and ask to reschedule at a time convenient for him or her.

The Mistake: You are scheduled to work the Sunday morning shift for your part-time job, but had a long Saturday night out with friends, and feel horrible the next day.

The Fix: It all depends on the job. If you’re doing something active all day (like waitressing) call your boss as early as possible to say you don’t feel very well, and that you will try your hardest to find someone else to cover your shift. If you’re behind a desk all day, show up and the make the best of it, and don’t forget to drink multiple cups of coffee that morning!

The Mistake: You walk into your large lecture class late, and interrupt your professor (who is extremely strict, and a bit frightening).

The Fix: Take a seat immediately, and speak with your professor after class. Let him or her know why you were running late, that it won’t happen again, and that you are sorry for interrupting the lecture.

The Mistake: The Bachelor chose who?! You get distracted by your favorite celebrity blog by having your laptop in class, and are caught when the professor calls on you to answer a question, and you are clueless.

The Fix: Don’t embarrass yourself by trying to come up with an intelligent-sounding response. Simply respond by asking him or her to repeat the question. If you still have no idea, just be honest. If you can tell that your professor was upset you were abusing laptop privileges in class, stay after class to apologize. Refrain from bringing your laptop to the next couple classes.

The Mistake: You’re finally working at your dream internship! But you forgot to tell your internship coordinator you aren’t able to come in Friday (which is only three days away!) because of a family event.

The Fix: Don’t panic, even though you’ll want to. You might see your entire career flash before your eyes. Relax, you’re not going to get stuck wearing a visor and taking orders for fries. In this situation, honesty is your best friend. If you‘re in the office, approach your coordinator in person as soon as possible. Don’t wait another second! Let him or her know about the event and how sorry you are you forgot to mention it weeks ago, and that you are willing to come in an extra day next week or stay late to make up for the late notice and the day you’ll be missing.

The Mistake: You find an e-mail from that has been hiding in your inbox for over a week, and it required a prompt response.

The Fix: You will probably start thinking of a million different excuses you can tell the person for why you didn’t see this e-mail. Big mistake. Don’t make up excuses; they will see right through you. Simply tell the person you missed the e-mail. Apologize, and let them know that you are willing to provide them with anything they need (as quickly as possible).

The Mistake: You wear jeans on the first day of your internship, and realize you are the only one. You are pulled aside (gasp!) by your internship coordinator about your too-casual wardrobe choice.

The Fix: Let him or her know that you were not aware of the dress code policy, and that it will not happen again. And obviously, don’t let it. But be observant when you go to the office for your interview to see what people are wearing (or just ask!). You can’t ever go wrong with a pair of black dress pants or a nice skirt (no higher than the knee, just to be safe) with a blouse.

Source: Carol Spector, director of career services at Emerson College

Victoria Guerrera, 2011, from Rocky Hill, Connecticut, is a junior Print and Multimedia Journalism major at Emerson College in Boston. Victoria started out as a Features Writer for em magazine, a fashion and lifestyle magazine at Emerson College, then became the Features Editor her sophomore year, and is now a Co-Editor-in-Chief of em magazine. Victoria has been a summer editorial intern for Us Weekly Magazine and Hartford Magazine. She enjoys shopping, playing volleyball, Andy Warhol, celebrity news, watching Project Runway marathons, and reading tons of magazines. After college, Victoria plans to pursue a wonderful career as a magazine journalist.
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