You are what you wear
Haley Peloquin is studying at IT Sligo and is our Canadian Ambassador. In this blog she offers some advice on how to dress for success in business…
From not knowing what to do after high-school, to having the opportunity to specialise in a field you have a passion for, is a journey many hope to experience. Some people are lucky enough to find the course and a path they enjoy and thrive in straight away, others go into several streams before they find the one that appeals to them. For me, let just say, it took several outfits to decide on the right one. So, until you reach your final destination, enjoy playing dress-up!
In business, you will be asked to wear multiple hats. Putting on the accounting hat to crunch numbers, putting on the economics hat to understand business industries in a world environment or putting on my favourite hat: marketing.This creative chapeau is one that I found suited my head the best; drawing skills and knowledge easiest from my brain that translated to the best results.
It’s your choice, and your career, but if I had to give you one piece of advice: choose the stream that best suits the person you are.
To wear or not to wear a… shirt
Being from Canada, you must wear 10 layers in the winter to keep some of your limbs alive – but where do you put all of this when you enter a meeting?! And in the summer, you can rarely ever wear a coloured shirt because that darkened glow under your underarm is not trendy.
In Ireland, it rains. And it rains. All I’m saying is be prepared for your surroundings. Dress appropriately too. If you are in class and thinking you can wear your FCUK branded sweater you’ve had since high school – maybe think again. This is a higher education environment, so when I say people will remember what you wear, this can hold true; positive or negative. Spontaneous meetings and presentations occur in this fast paced, unprompted industry – so be ready – because you never know when you’ll be shaking hands with the next Steve Jobs in your 1999 Graduation High-School hoodie. But hey, it’s your call.
Choose your pants, carefully…
Even bad media is good media. In North America, a popular clothing brand is Lulu Lemon. This athletic, yogi, comfort chic clothing is ideal for the student life. It hones the target market of “basic…” You know the girls who walk around with their Starbuck’s Frapps, Ugg Boots, and sock buns in their hair…the Irish version I suppose would be Penny’s scarf, pants cut off at the ankle, and a pair of cloud white sneakers…
Anyways, Lulu Lemon came out with pants that were, well, see-through. How can I put this.. keep your business as your own business? Ok, how about: don’t give all your ideas away at the first meeting pitch. Ahhh, let’s just leave it at: Please look in the mirror before you leave the house!
Gentlemen, this goes for you too. I know you won’t be trying to fit your fruit basket in a pair of leggings but those jeans with rips are cool, and those track pants you wore to football last night are comfy, but the person interviewing you in his Calvin Klein slacks may not think so.
These looks are fine for daily school, but remember your schedule – because showing up to a presentation or mock job interview is not going to get you a First (North Americans, a first means an A).
Don’t forget pockets for business cards, because wherever you are, you can expand your network. You hear someone talking in the café line, someone on the bus, or someone at a school lecture talking about your favourite company, your ultimate dream job, or an opportunity you want to jump on – hand them a card. Firstly, this looks professional and secondly, you don’t have to fiddle around trying to find paper and pen to write your information on, and when the pen doesn’t work, will that person wait around for you to get your stuff together? You’re a business student, no? We don’t get fancy calculators like the engineering students, or lab coats like the med and biotech students, we get business cards, so use them, and trust me, you never know when you will meet that connection that expands your network to land you your dream job.
Watch out for puddles, watch out for ice patches, watch out for dog waste, watch out for pot holes. These can all be metaphorical items in your career and life journey! The best thing to do is keep your eyes peeled, pay attention to your surroundings, be aware and alert. You’ll get through the unexpected and tough times. But if you didn’t walk that mile in your shoes, through the thick and the thin, they wouldn’t feel so good behind your desk at the finish line. Ok, hype. In business, there is no finish line. Business is to use your creative skills to differentiate yourself, your brand or your product. Attract people from the inside out. Impress people from the outside in – and well, vice versa.
You never know what that person across from you wearing the exact same thing has to offer that you don’t. When you’re confident about what you can offer, that’s when you’ll shine; regardless of the outfit you are wearing.