Deciding what to wear on work experience is often very tricky. How formal do you go? Tie or no tie? Does this pencil skirt make me look like a secretary? What does smart casual ACTUALLY mean? So Wannabe Hacks have compiled a few handy outfit tips to give you a head start on your placement or internship this summer. Here, The Student gives the blokes a hand.
Ok, so we have it a lot easier than the girls. Dressing up for work experience might not be a barrel of fun but at least we don’t have to lose sleep over wearing practical footwear or fret about being looked at like a leg of lamb by the news editor. But, saying that, looking the part and feeling comfortable is important and can actually have a huge bearing on how your placement pans out. Get it wrong and you could look and feel like a plonker.
To avoid that scenario, pay careful attention to my five staple looks and think carefully about which would suit your placement the best:
1. The suit
For some people, work experience equals ‘suit o’clock’. And, sometimes with good reason. For placements at large nationals, a suit is often a decent bet and can make you come across as a more confident, professional individual. News desks love a good suit and, in my experience, the likes of The Times, the Sunday Times and The Telegraph are big fans of the jacket and trousers combination.
However, it’s pointless wearing a suit if it doesn’t fit properly. A misshapen suit, a few sizes too big or too small on the arms or chest, can look comedic so don’t feel the need to don one just because your mate said so. I never wore a suit during any work experience placement over six years of work experience (I didn’t own one until two months ago) and it hasn’t had too much of an effect on me. So wear one if you want that air of sophistication but for heaven’s sake, make sure it doesn’t look like a sack of spuds.
2. Shirt, tie and trousers
My personal favourite and a solid all round bet. I found that when you start a placement, you don’t often know what the dress code in an office is like but the shirt and tie combo usually gets you out of the most tricky of situations. Not only that but you don’t have the hassle of carrying a jacket or have the heat issues that come with the extra layer (an important consideration when you’re doing a summer placement and chasing a story across town and on public transport). Fine for any media organisation, the key here is to have copious amounts of shirts and ties so as not to duplicate combinations.
3. The open collar shirt
A risk but one sometimes worth taking. I personally think the open collar look can look a bit lax and even a tad ‘rah’ (especially if the shirt is a pastel or salmon pink) but if you tuck in the optimum amount, with the right amount of overhang, it’s not the end of the world. Suitable in summer, the shirt has to fit snugly in this instance as there’s no tie to distract the eyes of your colleagues. And don’t whatever you do, open more than one button. You’re not David Hasselhoff.
Somewhere between the suit and the shirt and tie, the cardigan/v-neck middle ground is something of an unsung hero. Much more practical and, dare I say it, with the potential to be a bit more stylish (depending on the choice of knitwear, of course) it’s a good bet during Christmas work experience when the weather drops a few degrees. Black jumpers can be a bit secondary school-esque so perhaps start with a light grey one which goes with black and blue trousers with no hassle. Good bet for local journalism as not too flashy.
5. Polo and smart jeans
The opposite end of the spectrum, polo and smart jeans is basically Saturday night going out wear without the horrendous cologne. Clearly don’t wear this on your first day, whatever you think is right but by all means revert to this if someone says to you or you feel that it works.
For example, a couple of times whilst on work experience (mainly the Guardian Sport) I’ve felt like I could tone down my traditional shirt, tie, trouser combo but didn’t and wished I’d had. So, let that be a lesson to you – look smart initially, assess what’s acceptable and dress accordingly after that.
Let us know if you’ve had any wardrobe malfunctions by dropping a comment below or tweeting @wannabehacks.
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look