Mayor Gary Christenson's new Youth Employment Program will help middle school, high school and college students get valuable work experience this summer. Mayor Christenson's program kicked off this week with an orientation for all of the hundreds of teens that were fortunate to get summer jobs. I attended the orientation at the Senior Center and thought it would be a good idea to give teens (and/or their parents to give to the teens) a little advice on the importance of appearance while working.
Whether it's a summer job or first job after high school, I would recommend that care be taken into what you are wearing. Remember, first impressions are lasting impressions and you never know who you will run into or who will be evaluating you based on your appearance. Also, as a worker, your appearance can reflect positively or negatively upon your employer and even if you don't think its a big deal what you wear...they do!
I've done lots of research on professional image, self-esteem and workplace attitudes. These three elements are critical to success so as you (or your teen) begins their career journey, here are a few tips:
1. Pay particular attention to your overall appearance. Make sure your clothing is clean, free of rips, tears or holes. Appearance includes not just clothing, but your hair, nails and overall grooming.
2. If you are working in an "outside" job like for the City Works Department, wear dockers and a good pair of work boots.
3. If you are working in an "inside" or office job, like for the Senior Center or local business, make sure you are dressed appropriately. For the guys, a nice pair of pants (no jeans) and collared shirt will work. For the young ladies, a skirt and blouse, nice casual pants (no jeans). Check with your supervisor to determine if sneakers or regular shoes should be worn.
4. Pay attention to your shoes. Make sure if working in an office that they are not scuffed up or that if you want to wear flip flops that they are allowed.
5. Wearing clothing that is either too big (e.g. baggy pants) or too small is not appropriate in a work environment. Remember you are not dressing to go out with friends, but to impress your boss and get a good recommendation. Always check with your supervisor to see if there is any specific dress code you should follow.
Most organizations will have a printed dress code policy that you can refer to. Looking your best will make you feel better, function better and helps to boost your confidence. Remember, it's more important to have a job and money while gaining valuable experience than insisting on a particular "look" that will lessen your chances of continued employment or a job.
Additionally, for information on your rights as a worker, there is a great guide put out by the Attorney General's office that I would highly recommend. You can download a copy by going to www.mass.gov/ago/docs/workplace/teenguide-final.pdf.
Have a wonderful summer and enjoy this experience!