What Your Clothing Says about You in an Internship

17 Apr

Once you finally secure your internship, a million questions race through your head, one of which may include what you are going to wear.  I am by no means a fashionista–quite the contrary actually– but I believe I speak for many when I say that I sometimes feel overwhelmed and anxious when determining the appropriate dress code for an internship.

We all know that first impressions are an integral part of the communication world.  The way people perceive you can affect not only daily interactions but can also have an immense impact in the long run.  As an intern, you are on the bottom of the food chain; you are usually allotted the tasks that no one wants to do.  The way you dress can be a way to differentiate yourself.   You want to be sure you stand out amongst the highly qualified interns but not to the point that you outshine any of the employees.

Rule of Thumb

Interns working in corporate fields should typically wear suits.  In this case, less is more and simplicity goes a long way.  For interns working in more creative industries, personal style can enhance your individual identity.  If you are unsure how casual you can dress when you begin your internship, try to overdress the first week rather than underdress.  You will then get a sense of the working environment and can observe how the others dress. Daniel Klamm of Syracuse University’s Center for Career Services points out, “instead of asking what appropriate attire is, pick up on what others are wearing. It shows you have observational skills.”  The ability to observe and analyze situations can improve your communication skills.

What Not to Wear

Right off the bat, be sure to avoid perfume or cologne.  I know you want to smell good and maybe impress one of your colleagues with your delicious smell, but don’t! I can vividly remember the lingering scent of one of my fellow interns last summer.  We were all told to avoid wearing scents on the first day, but she somehow did not get the memo and sadly it became a running joke amongst the employees.  Showing too much skin, rips, flip-flops, and unnecessary accessories are a no-go.

Benefits in the Long Run

Chris Cox, the editor of easyandelegantlife.com suggests that we can apply basic marketing principles when dressing ourselves.  The clothing you wear mirrors your personality and can affect how people treat you, which is known in the marketing world as “perceived value.”  In working environments, it is important to carefully observe those around so that you adapt to your surroundings.  Cox believes that you must apply “advanced PR” if you are not mindful about the clothing you select.  What you wear not only affects how people perceive you but also affects how you view yourself.  Often, when you feel comfortable in what you are wearing, you generally communicate better.

by Dani Maron

Sources:

http://www.hercampus.com/career/dressing-part-what-wear-your-summer-internship-and-what-definitely-not-wear

http://easyandelegantlife.com/2010/01/perceived-value-what-your-clothes-say-about-you/

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3 Responses to “What Your Clothing Says about You in an Internship”

  1. Jacob Trunsky April 17, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Great post, Dani! Business dress is a more subtle, but definitely just as important part of overall communication. I always find it helpful to overdress if you are unsure about the dress code, and learn from the people around you. You will have a hard time building back up your image if you are underdressed on the first day at a new job!

  2. Silke Sen April 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    I agree with Jacob, this is a great post! Excellent advice in all regards. One additional note: make sure the clothes fit you properly… too tight is never a good idea. Applying an iron before heading out the door is another easy way to look well groomed and professional.

    • Cheyenne Owens April 23, 2012 at 1:35 am #

      Great point Silke. No matter how nice the clothes, wrinkled clothes can overshadow the ensemble and may subtly communicate a sloppy nature.

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