The Question:

We all work or will work in jobs with many different kinds of people. In your opinion, what are some important characteristics of a co-worker? Use reasons and specific examples to explain why these characteristics are important.



This is a sample TOEFL essay written by a native speaker.  It follows our TOEFL writing guidelines for independent essays.  If you find it useful, please remember that we have many more sample essays for you to review.

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Example Independent Essay:

(this question came from the Official Guide to the TOEFL, 4th Edition)


          Everyone in the world spends an enormous amount of time at their workplace, and how much they enjoy their job depends largely on the attitude and attributes of their co-workers.  I am of the opinion that there are two main characteristics of a good co-worker, which are professionalism and a willingness to learn new things.  I will explore these two factors in the following essay.

          First of all, co-workers with a sense of professionalism are desirable because they help to maintain an efficient work environment.  People who behave in a professional manner are less likely to act in a lazy fashion or pass their responsibilities off to others.  In my experience, this makes life much easier for everyone in an organization.  For example, last summer the staff at my company were quite overwhelmed by multiple assignments.  It was our busy season, and we had a number of unexpected orders come in from our international clients.  Filling these orders required everyone to focus intently on their areas of responsibility.  While this meant that some employees were working longer hours than others, I greatly appreciated that no one complained about the situation.  Instead, everyone maintained a professional demeanor, and we were able to get through the season.

          Secondly, it is good for workers to feel comfortable learning new things, because in modern society workplaces are changing at a rapid pace. The techniques and theories that we might have learned at school even a decade ago are increasingly becoming obsolete.  Employees who are unwilling to learn from their younger colleagues often create unpleasant workplaces.  My own experience is a compelling example of what I mean.  Last year my firm hired a new employee who had more than twenty years of experience in our industry.  While at first glance he seemed like a perfect addition to our organization, his techniques were wholly out of step with the modern world.  Not only that, but he became apprehensive and belligerent when younger staff members tried to show him about the current reality of our industry.  Eventually he was dismissed from the firm because of the negative effect he had on his co-workers.

          In conclusion, I believe that professionalism and a willingness to learn new things are the hallmarks of a good employee.  This is because a professional attitude is necessary to ensure a smooth and efficient work environment, and because in today’s rapidly changing world it is always necessary to learn new skills and techniques.