Inside the Internship: How to dress for the job you want

While the interview process is the most intimidating part of getting an internship, figuring out what to wear is the most intimidating part of starting an internship. Going in your first day, you’re not 100 percent sure about what is and isn’t appropriate. However, there are some basic rules you can follow to make sure you’re not committing any workplace faux pas.

Rule #1: Ask your internship supervisor at the company what is appropriate. Be pointed with your questions by asking about things like hemline length (a good rule of thumb is 2 inches above the knee or longer, if you’re unsure), if you can wear jeans (a lot of companies abide by Casual Friday) and if open toe shoes are acceptable.

Rule #2: If you have to think about an item for more than five seconds, chances are you shouldn’t wear it. If there is any doubt in your mind when wearing an outfit, it’ll affect your behavior. And you don’t want to get caught feeling unconfident.

Rule #3: Consider where you work when choosing an outfit. While there are the basic guidelines that apply to all companies, you also need to know your industry. I can guarantee you that a pair of loose-fitting leather shorts with a cute top and lace-up espadrilles will not work at a law firm. But, if you work at a place more for the creative types, you can probably get away with it.

Luckily for me, I’m an intern at a lifestyle magazine, so that means I have a little more leeway than others with what I show up in. Here are three different outfits that I can (and have) worn to my internship for three very different occasions:

Meeting the Boss

Photo by Mohammed F Emran
Photo by Mohammed F Emran

This outfit is safe for pretty much any internship. It’s classic, understated and conservative. I kept it stylish and modern by picking a shirt with subtle detailing, tapered slacks and somewhat strappy wedges. I also kept it toned down by pairing it with simple jewelry.

At my internship, I would choose to wear this if I had to work with higher-ups or had a meeting where most of the staff would be.

Making an Impression

Photo by Mohammed F Emran
Photo by Mohammed F Emran

Sometimes you just want to stand out. Is it your first day, or do you have a big presentation? If you want to draw a little more attention to yourself, try something patterned or of a brighter color.

This romper offers a good mix of business and fun because it has the bright, playful pattern, but it’s a fine length for where I work and has an appropriate silhouette.

I also made sure to keep everything else neutral so my outfit wasn’t sensory overload.

Casual Friday

Photo by Mohammed F Emran
Photo by Mohammed F Emran

Most companies will partake in Casual Friday. Please note that this doesn’t mean what you wear when you just need to run to grocery store for a quick second or are chilling on the couch. Think of it as a lunch date:

You want to be put together and presentable while looking relaxed.

A medium to dark wash jean makes it a little nicer and the clean white shirt keeps it simple and classy. I also swapped out wedges for flats, but if you feel that it’s getting too casual, feel free to keep a heel on.

 

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