Does this sweatshirt look professional?

In college, some students do not put much effort into their appearance. It’s a matter of which AU sweatshirt to wear with the most comfortable jeans. That is fine for college (even though I still cringe every time I see someone come to class in their pajama pants – impressing your professors is important too!). However, once you enter the work force everything changes, or at least you’d hope. I take pride in looking professional and put together for my internship, but there are some students who seem to forget they are no longer in their dorm rooms and in a professional setting. I have learned a lot from my past internships about what is appropriate office attire, and I think it could be helpful to share some tips:

  1. Overdressed is better than underdressed: Especially on your first day, you should arrive dressed in business attire. That means, no jeans, tank tops, sandals, t-shirts or any other article of clothing you’d be embarrassed to run into someone important in. It can be tricky to decide what to wear for the first day of work because you might not know what everyone else in the office wears, which is why it’s always safe to dress up rather than down. You don’t want to be embarrassed by your outfit, and you don’t want to make a bad first impression. Before getting the job, if you go in for an interview pay close attention to what people in the office are wearing because it’ll be a good way to see what you should wear in the future.
  2. Follow the leader: At my internship, my boss always looks put together. She never looks sloppy, and she always looks professional, which is why I put even more effort into how I present myself at work. (Side note: Clearly, I am not saying you should show up sloppy if you have a sloppy boss). She’s always ready at a moment’s notice to meet with clients and make a presentation because her job calls for such readiness. So, I have learned to come to work looking professional and ready to meet with any one if my schedule happens to change in a heartbeat. You never know who will be coming into the office or where you’ll need to go if a meeting comes up, so it is better to be prepared rather than put on the spot wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
  3. This is an office, not a club/gym/dorm room: Having good judgment is vital in shaping your appearance for work. Sounds serious, right? It is because it can translate who you are and how you make decisions in life. If you ever have to ask the question, “Does this sweatshirt look professional?” then please do the following: put the sweatshirt down and walk away. You are working in an office. You are not at a club, so save the mini skirt for Friday night. You are not at the gym, so skip the sleeveless tank and sneakers for your 9-5. You never want to show up to work wearing something that looks like you don’t care because if you don’t care, then why should you be given more important tasks and more serious responsibilities?

In no way am I saying that you need to be the prettiest or most stylish to succeed in life. More importantly, how you present yourself in the professional world displays if you’re a good decision maker and planner. If you look like you woke up late and ran to the Metro in your leggings and zip up, it translates that you have bad time management and are unable to get up for work in time. If you show up to work in your gym clothes it’ll make your boss think you care more about what you do outside of work than about your responsibilities in work: representing the company in a professional manner. Just remember, you want to translate who you are and what you believe is important. You never want to come off as not caring because no one wants to hire someone who does not care.

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