If you were already a student of McCombs prior to entering the MPA program, you are probably already very familiar with the dress standards of McCombs and the degree of seriousness to which these dress standards are taken. If you’re like me, you joined the program from another university and had never dressed Business Professional in your life. I hope that you were able to blend in better than I did on orientation. I believe orientation was Business Casual. I wore white jeans. JEANS. I thought my sheer-ish chiffon shirt and heels were nice enough that a pair of hole-less white jeans were formal enough. Needless to say, I didn’t blend in very well amongst my peers of already-well-acclimated-McCombs students who all looked interview-ready in their blazers and slacks. I learned later that week in BA 101 that I had broken more than a handful of professional dress rules. The good news is that I think even the most lost souls have an understanding of these expectations by recruiting season (if you don’t feel like you’re there yet, go see Merri Su Ruhmann and ask her for one of her pamphlets, it saved me). The truth is, 3rd years typically live in Business Professional during their Spring semester. Because Business Casual is essentially Business Professional without a blazer, do yourself a favor and have more than one outfit on hand, and keep one clean at all times. If you’re a woman you are typically expected to wear heels. Please don’t kid yourself and think you will survive in heels all day. BRING YOUR TOMS, Nikes, bunny slippers or whatever it is that saves your feet. Just make sure you don’t hobble into your big interview on clearly suffering feet. Take your pants off as soon as you’re home and don’t put them on all weekend if you don’t feel like it, but your appearance really does matter significantly during that interview window. You will feel that you have been lucky to have been trained to look like a professional when you come across someone at a recruiting event who hasn’t been so lucky. This program really prepares us to be professionals in a way that will benefit our careers for years to come, if we allow it to.
Which impression would you like to make?