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But What Should I Wear?

Last summer, when Regina Chien ’08 went to work at a nonprofit economic development organization in San Francisco, it wasn’t clear to her what she should wear in the workplace. Corporate business pantsuit? Casual slacks and sweater?

“It is hard to figure out what to wear on a day-to-day basis,” said Chien of her experience at her Praxis internship. “Some colors are not appropriate and some looks may not be flattering. I think this was something that I overlooked until my boss gave me more suggestions on what was appropriate.”

Thanks to Chien’s experience and her subsequent suggestion to the Career Development Office (CDO), a new workshop this week will provide the answers.

"Dress for Success," an informative presentation of various clothing options for different work situations, will give interns and those heading in to the workforce guidance on what items to pull from their closets. The workshop, which takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 24, is one of a series of student workshops offered this week by the CDO.

Confusion about how to dress is a common problem for many interns and new employees heading out to work environments with which they aren’t familiar. They want to make a good impression, but new employees, interviewees and interns often wonder: what are their options beyond the basic black business suit?

“Considering that such a large percentage of Smith graduates participate in internships and go straight into the working world after they graduate, and we have many recruiters coming to campus, we thought it was a great idea to put together a workshop concerning this issue,” says Ui-Jin Chong ’07, a CDO peer adviser, who is coordinating the event.

Chien appreciated receiving honest dressing tips from her Praxis internship supervisor, she says. “She said that in any setting where there is client contact, people will often judge you by your looks first, and then your ability,” said Chien. “She told me that sweater sets were a good bet, that wearing one solid color instead of prints looked more professional. Basically, she wanted to give advice so that I wouldn’t look so much like a student.”

The CDO has coordinated the "Suit Yourself" program for several years, which provides business attire on loan to students headed out for interviews. But beyond that program, Chien saw a need for a workshop that guides students on daily clothing choices once on the job.

The "Dress for Success" workshop, open to all students, will include a PowerPoint presentation showing different ensembles for different environments. Samples of clothing, provided by downtown Northampton clothiers Cathy Cross and Talbots, will also be displayed.

Other CDO workshops this week include: "Why Should I Hire You? A Guide to Successful Interviews;" "Finding Summer Jobs and Internships;" Personality, Majors, and Careers: Finding the Right Fit (MBTI);" and "Junior Jumpstart: Planning for Graduate and Professional School."

1/22/07   By Eric Sean Weld
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