Posted tagged ‘professional dress’

Q. What should I wear and what should I bring with me on the first day of my internship?

May 7, 2010

A. Great question for the Intern Coach, your school Career Center staff, and the Internship Manager at your internship! How to dress for your internship varies, depending on the corporate culture in your workplace. You can always ask your contact at the organization or the Internship Manager for tips about dress code and materials you should bring with you. For more suggestions can take the Intern Certification Program at Here are some general tips:

  1. Performance should represent 95% of business success, but the reality is that the split is 33% performance, 33% image, and 33% positive publicity (what people know about you). How you look is important since people draw immediate conclusions about you on first sight.
  2. Dress a bit more formally for the first day until you get a sense of the culture and style. A good rule of thumb is to avoid extremes in terms of clothing, jewelry, or scents at the start of your internship. Here are some general guidelines that may be helpful depending on your industry:
  3. Women should make sure that skirts aren’t too short, slacks aren’t too tight, and necklines aren’t too low. A stylish white shirt is always a safe choice. Wear the best shoes that you can afford and don’t wear excessively high heels.
  4. Men should wear a clean, ironed shirt, preferably white, with a conservative tie. If you wear a sport coat, go for a solid navy or one with a subtle pattern. Keep your dress shoes in great condition. Your socks should match pants and shoes. Leave your baseball cap and sneakers at home along with your pinky rings, necklaces, or bracelets.
  5. For the first day, you might want to take a backpack/computer case with you to carry items. If you’ve completed the Intern Certification Program, you’ll want to take your Internship Roadmap with you. Set up a time to sit down with your Internship Manager and discuss company expectations and goals and performance assessment, using the Internship Roadmap or similar outline as a guide.
  6. Another item in your backpack could be a journal to keep track of all your activities, so you can assess your own performance. A pad of paper and pen might be handy–to take instant notes as you meet new people. Jot down their names, so you can address them correctly the next day. Your new co-workers will be impressed by your efforts. You might want to tuck a snack bar or drink into your case for an energy boost on your busy first day.