In my travels I often hear how poorly today’s students present themselves at school or at work. Complaints range from being late, to not doing their “homework,” to dressing inappropriately. I mostly hear about inappropriate attire. No one is quite sure who is responsible for the general demise. Either way, here are some tips on how students can make a good first impression at school, work, or social event the minute they walk in the door.
1. Find out if there is a dress code.
Most schools, workplaces, and events have a “dress code” – find out what it is and follow it. If in doubt, opt for being overdressed rather than being underdressed. I heard of one high school student who followed his mother’s advice to wear a tie when going to a job interview at Starbucks and instantly got the job. There are several books and websites that can show you what to wear. A personal favorite is The Style Checklist: The Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials for You, by Lloyd Boston.
2. Dress for school the same way you would dress for work.
If you show up to class in something you would wear to bed, teachers will instantly have a different impression about you than other students. A high school in Vermont recently revised its dress code to prohibit pajamas and slippers. Dressing appropriately is a statement that “kids respect each other, themselves, and the school.” This also applies to clothes that are too revealing.
3. Cover tattoos and remove piercings that could be distracting in a particular environment.
This may be the most unfair but it can make a difference about whether or not you are hired. Some employers are just more conservative than others. If you are not sure, go “mystery shopping” before your interview. Creative industries are generally more tolerant than service businesses, such as banks or hotels.
What other tips or stories do you have about what worked/didn’t work for a student?