I am interning this summer with a great health care insurance company at their corporate office. I am in the Strategic Communications department which means I deal with almost all facets of the company. I have met with different levels of management including the CEO and Vice Presidents, to other interns like myself. One thing that is true about all these meetings, you have to dress to impress.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we all judge by appearances. When someone walks into the office with their shoes shined, clothes pressed and not a hair out of place they demand attention in a positive way. Inversely, someone who wears jeans with sandals, no make-up and looks like they just woke up acquires negative attention. Here are a few tips I picked up on during my time in a corporation to not receive negative attention:
Don’t dress too stiffly
Professional dress attire shouldn’t equal completely uncomfortable. Even though I spend most of my time sitting down, I never know what my day will entail. I could be taking pictures from different angles or walking from floor to floor in heels because the elevator isn’t working. Besides, when you dress uncomfortably, you look it too.
Don’t be too comfy
On the other hand, you don’t want to dress to the point of where you feel at home. You may lose some professionalism to your day-to-day work life if you do. Remember, there is a fine line between casual and unprofessional. Make sure you do not flirt with it too often.
Beware of casual Friday
I have only participated in casual Friday once this summer, and that was last week in my tenth week of the program. Even though I am close to running out the door when Friday ends, it doesn’t mean the workday is nonexistent. Casual Friday is not ‘wear whatever you like’ day. Unfortunately, many interns in my department have not realized that.
When in doubt, overdress
I usually dress more professional then my manager. Not because I feel she under-dresses, but because I want to make sure I am not wearing clothing below professional. I do not believe anyone has said all summer “Hey, have you checked out that intern? She overdresses everyday! It’s sad really.” The old saying is completely true today ‘dress for the job you want.’
I am by far not the most fashionable person I know. However, I do know that professional work attire is part of all professional work. It is the first line of defense in communicating that you are a young, confident, and ready to work. Make sure your guard looks polished.