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Entry by Valerie Petrey, Public Relations & Event Planning Intern, Purdue Liberal Arts Career Development

All of my weeks tend to have a topic that consistently comes up in classes and at my internship. This week the trending topic is email and texting.

Our generation would much rather send an email or text than talk on the phone, and that’s okay for most people because time is precious and it’s nice to read something at one’s leisure. However, where do you draw the line?

Is it acceptable to text your boss and tell him or her you aren’t coming to work? What about emailing a future prospective employer and addressing him or her with a “Hey what’s up?” Should you secretly blind copy (BCC) a person on an email, or copy someone who hasn’t been on that particular email string? The ethics behind email and texting is tricky, and so are the boundaries.

General rule of thumb is, pick up the phone if you can’t make it to work. Don’t text your boss or email inappropriate things to colleagues (remember, writing never goes away). Another important question to consider is should your boss or colleagues be allowed to text you, and can you text them, outside of normal business hours? This is very tricky and is an issue that consistently comes up in my current internship with Purdue Liberal Arts Career Development. In my internship everything we do is a team project. We always need help editing, writing, designing and planning, and since we are all students with crazy schedules we do most of our work outside the standard 9 to 5 p.m.

The best advice I have received is from my current internship employer. If your employer gives you a phone and pays for it that means you’re on call 24/7. If you don’t have a phone and conduct all work between business hours and through email, you should only text or call your employer and colleagues outside of business hours if it’s an emergency. For my internship, we are only texting if it’s an emergency or if we are working an event together. If email is an important part of your workplace communication, make sure to send them appropriately.

Emails tips for the workplace, courtesy of Purdue Liberal Arts Career Development:

  1. Utilize the subject line appropriately. An informative subject line determines whether someone may or may not open it.
  2. Keep your messages brief and to the point. Sometimes bullet points are a nice addition to the body of the email. Nobody enjoys reading a novel.
  3. Use CC’ing and BCC’ing as needed. If you’re BCC’ing someone let them know in advance so they don’t assume something is fishy. And don’t CC someone if it doesn’t pertain to him or her.
  4. Maintain separate work and personal email accounts. A lot of student email accounts go to people outside their institution junk box.

Remember nobody wants to open up an inbox with over 100 emails every morning.

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