How Not to Act as an Employee…
Whether for a summer internship or your first job out of college, securing an interview is nerve-racking. Prior to completing my first round of interviews over Spring Break, I scheduled an appointment with the CDO and walked away with a better sense of what to expect post-graduation, i.e. the need to invest in a professional wardrobe. Upon examining the contents of my closet for an interview outfit, I had an epiphany – I had no idea what I was doing. I was in need of help. Here are few tips I picked up as I prepped for my very first Adventure in Adulthood: the Interview.
1. When in Doubt, ask an Actual Adult for Advice
Whenever I receive exciting job news, I do three things – I call all of my family members, hug it out with my friends, and run over to my professors’ offices, all in that order. However, this time I ran to my professors’ offices first. I chose to consult with adults who have recently completed the professional job search, i.e. within the last 5 years, or are currently undergoing the process. Aside from the CDO, these individuals can give you the best advice on what to expect throughout the professional job search.
2. Research Company Culture
While this may seem like a no-brainer to some, I certainly needed to be reminded. One of my professors imparted this and many other nuggets of knowledge upon me when I spoke to her about my employment prospects. In this case, Google is your friend. As I was interviewing with a Milan-based luxury brand, she advised me to look at the brand’s current runway trends for inspiration, but to tailor it to a corporate environment. She also advised me to wear separates, i.e. a blazer or sweater, and to travel with multiple, yet versatile outfit options in case of an emergency.
3. Shop Your Closet First
My professor and I brainstormed potential outfit combinations together because I was scheduled to interview with another employer after my first interview. In other words, my outfit had to do double duty and still look fresh. We ruled out oxfords (too many wrinkles), stilettos (I opted for low-heeled, pointed toe pumps with a pair of black ballet flats for the subway and walking), wool fabrics (overheating), and color (“All Black Everything” was the motto, as per usual). All of the professors I consulted told me a blazer was a non-negotiable. Luckily, I already had a black blazer in my closet. However, it was stained and had a loose button, so be sure to check all of your clothes for stains, rips, and proper fit prior to the interview. If you chose to dry clean your clothes, go to a trusted cleaner (check Yelp reviews) ahead of time. To finish off the outfit, I chose a breathable, cotton turtleneck, cropped pants, and minimal jewelry (faux diamond studs, my high school class ring, and my father’s college ring for good luck). You are the focus, not your clothes, so your outfit should be discreet and unidentifiable in terms of label. Make sure to check the weather, especially if you are interviewing in an unfamiliar city! The weather reports were calling for cold weather and a possible chance of rain so I chose to wear a rainproof coat, i.e. my Barbour, and a simple, white snood I picked up at J.Crew for $16 prior to my trip. I carried a large, black purse I borrowed from my Mama that was large enough to carry the essentials – my resume, flats, wallet, and phone. If you need to make any purchases (I had to buy the cropped pants), many online retailers are offering Spring Promo codes through email, so sign-up and keep your eyes peeled. My suggestions on where to shop for professional attire? Gap, J.Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger, Brooks Brothers, and for a cheaper suit alternative, JoS. A. Bank.
4. Schedule an Appointment with the CDO
Leslie Harding is my new bestie, so make her or any member of the CDO Staff your new bestie. Why? Their sole purpose is to help you become a gainfully employed adult. The CDO is an invaluable resource of information on potential employers, the Kenyon Career Network, navigating sites such as Glassdoor, and tips on how to interview. During my mock interview, I noticed I tend to fidget and play with my hair – a mock interview is an excellent way to practice your “Elevator Speech” and catch those nervous tics. Schedule one today!
Best of luck to all my Seniors on the Post-Grad Job Hunt (Remember to breathe!) and to everyone on the look-out for summer employment!