Dress for Success

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When I was interning in college, I never knew how formal I should dress. My place of employment was fairly casual and I went to my internship from class, so I didn’t want to be overly dressed for my entire day. However, I still went out and bought basics: black, navy and khaki pants; comfortable but nice shoes; and a few button-down shirts and cardigans. I suggest college students and recent graduates do the same. Regardless of what type of internship you hold, you always want to look presentable. The old adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” still holds true. I never realized it when I was in college (or even a recent graduate) but I’ve thought about it more when I search for work attire now. Though superficial image shouldn’t have such an impact on employers, one tends to look more responsible and confident with a well thought out wardrobe.

My biggest suggestion for college seniors is to ask for a nice (but reasonably priced suit) for a holiday gift or graduation present. Most suits are ill-fitting and need to be tailored so you don’t look like a child in adult clothing. Though this task can seem expensive, if you get a basic suit that fits you well it will last a long time. You can also wear it on various interviews and once you land a job, you can wear just the pants portion if your work is more casual. Trust me that basic clothing is essential to your wardrobe. If you go with trendy outfits, you will need to keep updating your wardrobe (which is hard to do on an entry-level salary). If you have a few staples in your closet, you can wear them with anything.

If you are ever concerned about what to wear to work or wear on an interview, I suggest dressing a little bit better than you originally intended. Especially for young people, this tip goes a long way. It’s hard enough “looking the part” when you’re younger than other colleagues so if you’re dressed more casual than other interviewees or colleagues, it will show.

Good luck and for more tips, I suggest reading this article: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviewsnetworking/a/dressforsuccess.htm.


Amy Muldoon graduated from Penn State University in 2005 and worked in corporate public relations for three years before returning to graduate school to become an English teacher. Her strengths include: drafting speeches, writing talking points for media interviews, making corporate presentations, and writing for publications.
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