Vampire Teeth and Other “What Not to Wear” items for OCR Interviews

By Claire Klieger

I guess the Twilight series had a more profound impact on college pop culture than I thought because earlier this week we actually found some fake vampire teeth in our waiting area at Career Services. (Sorry, if they were yours and you were hoping to claim them, I’m afraid they’ve already found their way to the trash). While it should be obvious that fangs are inappropriate interview attire (and I would think inappropriate to bring to Career Services in general—but hey, maybe that’s just me), students do often agonize about what is appropriate to wear to interviews.

Taking the "bite" out of interview attire.

As we enter into the start of OCR interviews this week, here are some tips:

1) Go easy on the “pieces of flair.” I once saw an interviewing guide that encouraged people to wear no more than 13 accessories, but I think even that is too much (frankly, I’m not sure I could even list 13 different types of accessories). Any jewelry you wear should be fairly subtle. Avoid overly large or dangly earrings and especially if you have a facial piercing, you may want to consider removing it for the interview. Essentially, you don’t want to wear anything that will distract from what you are saying.

2) Skin is not in. As popular as they may be at frat parties the world over, short skirts or low cut tops are not a good idea. Trust me ladies, those are not the assets you want to be stressing in your interview. Skirts lengths should be right around your knee and while you certainly don’t have to wear a turtle neck, use good judgment about necklines.

3) Know “the uniform.” What you wear to an interview depends a lot on the culture of the organization in which you’re planning to work. For more conservative industries like finance and consulting, this means wearing a dark suit, and ideally, for women, a skirt suit. However, for interviews with say….Polo Ralph Lauren, what you wear is a chance to highlight your fashion sense, which is much more central to your job. Similarly, for interviews at tech organizations that often have a more business casual working environment, you may look much more like a member of the team if you dress in business casual attire.

What you wear to an interview should be something that makes you feel confident, which, in turn, will help you come across that way to a recruiter. The best attire draws the attention to your face because ultimately, you want to remembered for what you say, not what you wear.

Going Global: Go Abroad Now!

Going Global is a great resource for anyone interested in going abroad to work, intern, study or volunteer.   We currently have an online subscription with them (gain access by visiting our international resources’ page) and their listings are available to Penn students and alumni through PennLink.  Every Monday, Going Global features a piece of advice on their blog to help you get abroad.  This ongoing series is called “Must Do Mondays”  –  a must read if you want to turn your dreams of getting abroad into reality.  Today’s post discusses the importance of building your LinkedIn profile – check it out!

Navigating the federal career maze

During my time at Penn, I’ve noticed that there’s an increasing interest in government careers.  The number of College undergrads who succeeded in finding a job in the government after they graduate nearly doubled from 2008 to 2009.

It’s fantastic that Penn students are getting jobs in the public sector but I know that finding federal job postings can be a bit of a mystery.  Everyone knows about USAJobs, but most college students actually get their jobs by applying directly to the federal agencies and into one of their student programs and by networking, just like people do in the private sector.

That means you have to do thorough research of opportunities that interest you.  For instance, if you’re looking to work abroad, don’t just apply to the State Department, but also include other agencies that have an interest internationally, including the Department of Agriculture, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the International Trade Administration.

Here are a few websites that I’ve found useful for researching federal agencies and opportunities beyond the usual suspects:

(1)  In the Partnership for Public Service’s Federal Careers by Field of Interest guides, you can find by major or career field lists of federal agencies hiring in those fields, top position titles, sample internships and jobs, and geographic distribution of those jobs.  This is how I find out that the Department of Defense is the biggest federal provider of communications positions and that you have to search for public affairs specialists if you’re look for a PR job in the government.

(2)  To find federal agencies located near where you want to live, try the new, the good old blue pages of the phone book, and the local Federal Executive Board‘s agency lists.  When I typed “San Diego psychology positions” into, a bunch of jobs for psychology graduates in San Diego area federal agencies appeared in the search results.

(3)   If you like numbers and can tolerate a less friendly interface, you also might like using Fedscope to research which federal agencies are located in your state and what and how many positions they have in your field.  When you’re on this website, click on employment and the most recent data (month/year) to access a wealth of federal employment data.

    Our wisdom on this topic is kept on the Career Services’ Make an Impact resource website. Check it out. And please share your tips with us in the comments section.