I am starting to feel like a self-appointed fairy godmother to all the Born Frees about to get into working environments. Yesterday I was reading one of those quirky pieces of writing about being 20-something in this century. The author made a list of 10 things his/her fellow 20-somethings could be for halloween. One of the listed items was "intern" and the author said something about a simple button down shirt, black pants, pumps and a confused look.
Since I consider myself to be an old hand in corporate culture and having worked a few entry-level jobs in my university years I thought I'd challenge this simplistic and quite misleading view on the intern wardrobe.
There are only a few things you have to remember before you start putting your work wardrobe together:
1. Keep the company in mind
Look at the company's website, take notes of what people are wearing when you go for you interview (for which you must wear formal clothes.) Ask the person who is your link with the company (junior HR manager or head of department) what you're expected to wear.
2. Keep your duties in mind
Nobody (in their right mind) would expect you to run around town dropping off paperwork, picking up branding samples and coffee orders in a pencil suit and heels. If your responsibilities vary, ask for a schedule of what you might be expected to do on what days and plan you wardrobe accordingly. Wear your light dress, blazer and pumps when you have to run around and wear a formal skirt, t-shirt, blazer (or light cardigan to keep the office chill at bay) and shoes with a slight heel when office bound.
Your goal is not to look like the senior managers, your goal is to interpret the corporate's culture and tailor it to yourself. You also needn't break the bank just invest your money in these staples:
1. A good quality pencil or A-line skirt (black) and white shirts or blouses; and (or)
2. A good quality pantsuit;
3. Black pumps;
4. A good black heel you can walk in or black formal shoe.
5. Neutral cardigan
6. A smile, good attitude and work ethic because these are the only things that will get you anywhere in your career and life in general.
In my interning days good pencil skirts and jackets could be found at secondhand shops and my mother's wardrobe. Very few people will remember what you were wearing, unless it's flip flops, short shorts and bad attitude.
Don't wear a bad attitude.