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8 Ways to Build a Professional Wardrobe

Yes, your sweatpants and sneakers may have been your go-to attire for class, but that college wardrobe isn’t going to cut it in the professional world.

If you’re starting an internship or a first job (or putting yourself out there in the job market at all), it’s time to update your closet for this stage of your life.

If you want to make a strong first impression, building a professional wardrobe will make you look put-together and on top of your game.

Here are eight tips to help get you started.

 

Know the Rules

The guidelines for workplace appropriate clothing differ between industries and companies. Check your workplace’s policy to determine whether business professional or business casual is expected, and take notice of how your coworkers are dressed as well. Make sure you’re also familiar with any specific guidelines to your organization’s dress code to determine what is and isn’t appropriate.

 

Build a Budget

Shopping for a whole new wardrobe can be overwhelming (not to mention expensive), so before you start shopping, you’re going to need a plan. Set aside a small percentage of your paycheck each month to buy professional clothing and decide which items you’re going to purchase before heading to the store. If you’re on a limited budget, try brewing your coffee at home or bringing your lunch to your work/internship and use what you save as extra spending cash.

 

Get Inspired

You’ll be a lot more likely to build a great work wardrobe if you view the task as a fun opportunity rather than a chore. While you never want your clothes to speak louder than your work ethic, it’s okay to incorporate a personal touch of style, especially if your workplace’s policy leans more toward business casual. For appropriate work style inspiration, follow professional style bloggers (such as This Time Tomorrow and 9 to 5 Chic) or browse magazines like InStyle and GQ. Pinterest is also a great source of inspiration (check out our Dress for Success board for some great ideas).

 

Start With the Basics

Neutral-colored basics are the foundation of any good work wardrobe, which means they’re the first items you should purchase and the ones you should consider splurging on. Look for a couple good quality slacks, a few blouses, sensible shoes and a natural-colored business jacket or blazer. Once you’ve got enough to create a full week of outfits, you can start purchasing items to round out your look, like different colored cardigans/sweaters, blouses and accessories.

 

Accessorize Appropriately

When it comes to accessories, the key thing to remember is that they should never distract colleagues from what you’re saying. Avoid wearing jewelry that’s too large or flashy, and instead opt for classic pieces that’ll make you look polished and presentable. Make sure all your accessories match as well. If you’re going to wear something colorful, keep the rest of your outfit neutral.

 

Find a Tailor

Even the most well planned outfit can make you look unprofessional and sloppy if it doesn’t have the right fit. A recent study from the University of Hertfordshire found that men in tailored suits were seen as more professional and confident by observers than men wearing nearly identical, un-tailored suits. Make sure you’re viewed in the best light by finding a reliable tailor for your most important pieces. Ask peers or colleagues to recommend a seamstress, or buy from a department store that offers the service for free or at a discount.

 

Focus on Fabric

Nothing is more distracting than wearing clothes to work that are uncomfortable or a hassle to deal with. To make sure you’re buying pieces that both look and feel great, check garment tags to find out if an item will be easy to wash and if it’s wrinkle-free, which will make planning your outfits a lot easier. Also make note of the fiber content, since items with a high percentage of cotton or wool tend to last longer. Finally, don’t forget to try things on in store to get an idea of how they’ll feel in the office (if you’re buying online, take time to read through product reviews before you purchase).

 

Search for Sales

Building a professional wardrobe doesn’t have to burn a hole in your wallet. You can find good quality clothing at an affordable price as long as you know how to look for it. Consider shopping at department store outlets such as Houston Premium Outlets in Cypress, and sign up for emails that will let you know when certain stores are having sales. For example, the free service Shop It To Me will send you alerts when your favorite designer brands are having sales. Apps and websites like Poshmark also allow you to find gently used clothing at reduced prices from other users and create your own closet, where you can sell pieces that don’t work for your new wardrobe.

By Priscilla Aceves

 

5 Tips to Succeed in Your Internship

Internships are more than just filler for your résumé.

As an intern, you’re gaining valuable experience and getting your foot in the door of a company or industry. But if you’re not adequately prepared, it can be easy to waste the opportunity.

If you’re preparing to embark on an internship this summer or next semester, keep these 5 tips in mind to make your experience valuable.

 

Stay Informed

While you shouldn’t be afraid to ask relevant questions throughout your internship, your supervisors may not always have time to explain everything. If a term or project that you’re not familiar with is referenced in the middle of a meeting, make a note of it and ask a coworker or look it up on your own. It’s also a good idea to subscribe to relevant online magazines or journals so that you stay on top of what’s going on within the industry.

 

Take Notes (Literally)

As an intern, you’ll be given lots of different tasks and projects, and it’s important to keep track of all of them. Buy yourself a small notebook or notepad to keep on hand at your desk and carry to all meetings and one-on-ones. But don’t just take notes on deadlines or assignments. Also include new things you learn, ideas to research and even which projects you enjoyed the most, so that when you look back on your experience, your notes include more than just your daily to do list.

 

Dress the Part

Part of being taken seriously at your internship is about making a good first impression. And like it or not, that begins with your outfit. Learn the company’s policy on business professional/business casual and make sure you adhere to it when you walk into the office. Also pay attention to how your coworkers dress, which will help you figure out what’s considered acceptable.

 

Share Your Ideas

As an intern, you’re probably entering an unfamiliar environment without a lot of experience within the industry. But that doesn’t mean your well-researched ideas won’t be welcomed. If you find a different way to do things that could benefit the company or have a suggestion that might help your supervisor/coworkers, don’t be afraid to share. Even if your idea doesn’t get implemented, you’ll demonstrate that you’re committed to your internship and truly care about the company.

 

Set Personal Goals

Before your internship begins, make a list of a few specific goals you’d like to accomplish during your time as an intern such as learning a new skill or finding a mentor. Even if things don’t end up happening exactly the way you hoped, keeping those goals constantly at the back of your mind will keep you focused and make the experience more rewarding overall.

By Priscilla Aceves

7 Unique Places to Visit on Your Texas Road Trip

With less than a week before the all-important college kid’s holiday (Spring Break), it’s the perfect time for a road trip!

That’s right — put the pedal to the metal and hit the open road to explore everything Texas has to offer. You can binge Netflix and nap anytime, and we’ve got a few ideas for fun spots in Texas you can visit to escape the crowds and make the most of your week off.

 

Marfa

Minimalist art and the West Texas landscape come together in this tiny town only a couple hours north of Big Bend National Park. While the city’s population is less than 2,000 people, it’s worth stopping by to view the impressive art instillations by world renowned artists (such as the famous Prada Marfa sculpture). If you’re lucky, you might even get a glimpse of the mysterious Marfa lights, whose origin scientists have been trying to figure out for years.

 

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Everything’s bigger in Texas… including the dinosaur fossils. Located near Forth Worth, Dinosaur Valley State Park allows visitors to get a glimpse of real dinosaur fossils as they hike their way through 20+ miles of trails. With lush wildlife and plenty of wild animals, visitors can imagine how majestic dinosaurs roamed the area millions of years ago.

 

Texas Chainsaw Massacre House

The original house used for the 1973 horror film Texas Chainsaw Massacre is now a restaurant located in Kingsland, Texas and attracts hundreds of visitors every year. Stop by for a meal and a piece of Hollywood history at what is now the Grand Central Cafe.

 

Cadillac Ranch

Houston isn’t the only city in Texas famous for its art cars. Located in Amarillo, the Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation featuring a series of half-buried Cadillacs that have been decorated by visitors for decades. If you BYO can of spray paint, you can even add your own mark to the brightly colored cars.

 

Bartlett

If you’ve always wondered what an abandoned town would look like, Bartlett (located an hour north of Austin) may help satisfy your curiosity. While a few families still reside in this tiny town, its downtown and commercial areas are virtually abandoned. Because of its classic 20th century architecture, several movies have also been filmed here.

 

Pedernales Falls State Park

Located in the heart of the hill country (and about half an hour west of Austin), this state park will mesmerize you with its hiking trails and waterfalls over layered steps of limestone. With stunning views, biking trails and swimming areas, Pedernales Falls is a road trip stop perfect for visitors who are nature lovers —and even some who might not be.

 

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

You don’t have to travel all the way to Africa to experience your first safari. Thanks to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch located outside of San Antonio, Texan visitors can drive through 400 acres containing over 40 exotic species. Witness herds of giraffes, zebras, antelope and more make their way through the park as you drive by. Don’t forget to stop by the Safari Trading Post for a souvenir to commemorate the experience.

By Priscilla Aceves

6 On-the-Job Skills to Develop Before Graduation

It’s the beginning of March, and for spring graduates, that means the countdown is on.

The good news? You’ve already given yourself a competitive edge in the job market by earning a college degree (and if you’re graduating from Bauer College, that degree means you’re part of an alumni network of nearly 60,000!).

The other news? Recruiters hire for more than just degrees. But developing soft skills that employers want isn’t impossible. Check out our list of skills you should develop (or improve) before graduation day.

 

Leadership

Even if you won’t be holding a c-level position anytime soon, leadership skills are an asset to any role in the workplace. If you’ve held a student officer position or led teams as a volunteer during your time in college, be sure to list that experience on your résumé. It’ll show employers you’re able to take initiative and inspire change in others.

 

Event Planning

Your future job may not directly involve planning events, but employers value this skill because it demonstrates your ability to multitask and follow through on large-scale projects. If you don’t have any event planning experience, consider becoming an officer for a student organization. Planning bake sales, general meetings and mixers will demonstrate your attention to detail and commitment to follow through — all great skills to mention during future job interviews.

 

Technology

These days, it’s not enough to be fluent in Microsoft Word. Employers are looking for job candidates who are familiar with all of Microsoft Suite (which means you should pay attention in your MIS classes!). It’s a bonus if you have other technical skills to offer, such as coding or experience working in Adobe Creative Suite. If you have the extra time, consider signing up for an online course that will give you first-hand tech expertise to add to your résumé.

 

Written Communication

You might think years of cranking out essays in college have given you enough writing experience, but a survey from the American Association of Colleges and Universities reveled that only 27 percent of employers believe recent college grads have the written communication skills necessary for the workplace. The good news is, there are a lot of ways to improve your writing skills before you graduate. Visit your professors’ office hours to get advice on how you can become a better writer (even if you did get a good grade on that essay), or schedule an appointment at the UH Writing Center in CBB.

 

Collaboration

Interpersonal skills are about more than knowing how to talk to people. Employers are looking for candidates who can tailor their interactions to the person they’re speaking to, such as a client, partner or coworker. An easy way to brush up on your interpersonal skills? Take that retail job over the summer or on weekends throughout the semester. Not only will you earn yourself some extra spending cash, but you’ll also add valuable customer service experience to your résumé and learn how to work with a diverse range of colleagues.

 

Presentation

Whether you’re a fan of public speaking or not, chances are you’re going to have to do it at some point in your career. That’s why employers are looking for candidates who already possess great presentation skills. Learning how to deliver an effective presentation is often part of your coursework at Bauer College, but if you don’t feel fully prepared to deliver a speech professionally, seek out resources such as Toastmasters to improve your public speaking abilities.

By Priscilla Aceves