Many of us have heard time and time again how important internships are while in school. But a related concept that some still don’t understand is the importance of dressing for success. Once you’ve secured an internship you need to get acclimated to the company’s culture — and what you wear is a big part of that.
Here are some suggestions to get you started on dressing for your internship…
Blend in, Baby
Let’s say you were able to land an internship at a law firm. Probably not a good decision to show up for work on your first day in jeans, a T-shirt and your favorite hoodie. I know that is a popular style for college students—myself included during that stage of my life—but you need to adapt to your work environment. There are plenty of great deals on clothes to make wardrobe additions more affordable.
If you are not exactly sure about the dress code at your new position, don’t be afraid to ask. Send an email to someone in the company (your new manager, for example) or just wear something “business casual” the first day that could be upgraded with a tie or scarf, if necessary. Once you’re there, you can see how everyone in the office is dressed, and adjust accordingly.
What Exactly Does “Business Casual” Mean?
Business casual is a term often used – but some don’t really understand what it means. Do jeans with a dress shirt—a look that combines both business and casual—count? The best way I can describe business casual is as one step below formal or professional dress; meaning you don’t need to wear a suit and tie. For ladies a dress suit is not required—although there is nothing wrong with going that route if you choose. Khakis or a nice pair of pants with a collared shirt, button up oxford or blouse are all good options. A nice loafer or shoe is good to wear, too.
To Accessorize, or Not to Accessorize?
This may apply more to the ladies than the guys, but men are also wearing more wristbands and different kinds of accessories these days. This is another one of those decisions that you need to play by ear. If you are interning in a more laid back environment, let’s use Google for example, you can wear T-shirts, jeans and different wristbands and accessories. If you work in a more formal environment, you have far less leeway when adding accessories to your wardrobe. In that case, it’s best to dress professionally with suits and ties or dress suits – and limit the gaudy jewelry or rubber bracelets.
There is an old saying, “dress for success”, and that’s the mentality you want to take into your internship. Someone will always have their eye on you – anything you can do to get a leg up on the competition is advisable.
Finally, think of another old saying when deciding what to wear: it never hurts to be the best dressed person in the room; but it always hurts to be the worst.
About the Author: Ashley Spade, in addition to being a social media ninja and alumna of several successful internships, is a law student in the Windy City. She lives, plays, and studies in Chicago with her ever-faithful sidekick, Sir Winston Pugsalot the First. Follow their adventures on Twitter or via ProfessionalIntern.com.
Photo credit: icanhascheezburger.com