The Intern Dress Code

The first day of your summer internship is quickly approaching and you find you have one recurring dilemma: what do I wear?  Do you dress to impress and wear a full on suit like many business professionals? Or do you play it down and go with nice pants and a button down? Depending on where you work, it can be difficult to determine what the dress code is for an intern. The easiest way to figure out what your work environment will be like is to simply visit the office. Most likely, you have visited the office for your interview. Think back to what the employees were wearing and the general vibe of the office to get a feel for what would be acceptable to wear. If you have never been to the office and are in the area, it may be a good idea to schedule a visit a few days prior to your first day. That way, you won’t be completely blindsided when the time comes to put on your outfit for the first day of work.

If you do not have a chance to check out the office before your first day, here are two golden rules of the Intern Dress Code:

1. Dress to Impress. The saying will never fail you. Impress your bosses with how well you can dress for a corporate environment, and always err on the more professional side. Shorts and a t-shirt might be fine to hang out with your friends or even go out to dinner in during the summer, but they are typically out of place in an office. As someone new to the office, your clothes can dictate how serious you are about the position. Wearing clothes you would wear on a weekend or to the beach might indicate that you are not mature enough to dress like an employed adult.

2. Don’t be a Skintern! Typically geared towards women, this tip is crucial to remember. Skirt length at an office, at its shortest, should not be much higher than the knee. Although summer is hot and it is easy to simply throw on a tank top and skirt, always make sure to pack a cardigan or jacket for once you arrive at the office. Low-cut shirts and short skirts will not get you the type of attention you are looking for as an intern. Be professional.

Still nervous about what to wear for the first day? Stick to the basics. Some offices might not encourage bright clothing, so stay neutral with navies, blacks, tans, and grays. Guys, wear a suit with a tie. If the office is more casual, you can simply take off the jacket and tie once you settle in. Ladies, a pencil skirt just above the knees with a blazer over a tucked in blouse will work for pretty much anywhere. Pair this with a nice pair of flats or low pair of heels (don’t go over 3 inches), and you’re good to go!

What you wear to work might seem trivial, but if you want people to view you as a future employee instead of merely a summer intern, take the dress code seriously. An easy way to put it is this: Dress for the position you want to have, not the one you’re currently in. If a job opens up in the company you interned for, or even if there’s a chance of getting a promotion from the job you’re already in, companies will lean towards people who already look and act the part. So don’t let your attire become the reason why you are not considered for a position.