College experimentation means more than pumping the keg at that first frat-party or that first toke of “the ganja.” Though society largely sensationalizes the abundant rites of passage a student’s first lack of parental scrutiny affords, it also allows one to explore a host of career paths and hone in on specific skill-sets. Students dream of the day they can shake hands with the dean and turn their tassel, but the question remains—what next?
For the 12th year now, the concerned minds of the Communication Studies Society have been making post-grad life not so scary. Manifesting itself in the form of the Dress for Success Fashion show, this year will incorporate high-energy fun with vital instruction by featuring communications studies majors strutting their best biz-casual attire down the runway, as emcee Jessica Coleman, a senior in the major, divulges insights into clothing choices, crafting resumes, and perfecting interview skills. Situating itself amidst COM Studies Day, the show will be held at 12:15 this Friday, March 21st.
Since forming 11 years ago, the show has grown exponentially, and is one of the communications department’s longest running student-produced events. The first installment of Dress for Success was held on a tiny runway in UNCW dining-hall Hawk’s Nest. It had no donors or dress rehearsals. As interest mounted, so did the magnitude of the event. It’s now, generally, the most attended event of COM Studies Day and housed in the Warwick Center Ballroom, where models sashay down a 32-foot runway.
“The show does a great job of helping students realize that jobs are not a one-fits-all kind of deal, and they shouldn’t settle for just any job,” co-coordinator Mary Kresge enlightens. “They should find the one that fits them best.”
That’s right, folks. The right fit doesn’t just refer to the inseam of one’s trousers. Many people find themselves in a whirlwind of uncertainty after graduation, largely resulting from an ill-informed job choice. If Carrie Bradshaw has taught the world anything, it’s that somewhere out there Mr. Big is waiting—the same goes for one’s career. With burgeoning industries like public relations and trades like personal stylist taking the forefront in today’s ever-evolving job market, this generation, more than any prior, exhibits a devotion to finding a career that’s fulfilling both spiritually and emotionally—not just evaluated by the figures on a paycheck.
“Finding the right job takes lots of time and effort,” Kresge elaborates. “One must research the company and figure out if that job/sector is right for them. Consult teachers, co-workers, mentors, and career services staff to help you in your job search. In addition, a great way to research jobs is to conduct an informational interview with someone who has a job you think you are interested in—internships and job shadowing [are a great tool], if you can get that opportunity.”
Once a person narrows down the options, finding the right look proves key. This year Dress for Success boasts a theme based on hit TV-show “Scandal.” The decision came about due to its popularity in the on-the-cusp of graduation demographic, and because it fits in perfectly with the event’s warnings against making a scandalous first impression. As well, a short pre-recorded skit based on “Scandal” will be showcased at the event. Each year, Rich Pezzuolo’s Studio TV Production II class films a short in an effort to peak attendees’ interest. The show’s models will make their way down the runway in threads from Men’s Wearhouse, White House | Black Market, and the Belk at Independence Mall. Over the years, Dress for Success has cultivated a relationship with the retailers, who annually lend clothing to the event.
When venturing into an interview, one serves as their own public relations agent. It’s all in the details. From earrings to shoes to whether or not there are matching socks under those shoes, one becomes their own canvas. Painting the right picture proves just as important as the accolades listed on one’s resume.
“Dressing for an interview is the one part of the interview a candidate completely controls, so they need to get it right,” Kresge reminds.
The debate revolving around self-expression also constitutes a hot-button issue. Society’s youth revels in the idea of indestructibility and rarely regards the future. However, the body ink and studded-holes of today will still leave their mark tomorrow. Though not discouraging body-decor, Kresge advises students to assess decisions with career trajectory in mind.
“You don’t have to change who you are, but you have to understand the possibility that these things might hinder your chances of getting a specific job,” Kresge states. “When possible cover large tattoos or remove piercings for a job interview if you think they won’t be well received. This ties into the show’s message of finding a job that fits each candidate well.”
Though held on UNCW ground, Dress for Success hopes to reach as many people in the community as possible. Open to the public, the show holds pertinent information for anyone with a job or looking for a job, regardless of age. “A recent article on Ragan.com said that ‘85% of employees would leave their current job for a new one,'” Kresge informs. “That number is huge, [and] it reflects back on the message our show conveys—finding a perfect career is challenging, and it’s a process that can change over time.”
In the spirit of inclusiveness, event coordinators will live-blog and tweet throughout the event for those unable to attend. A host of local establishments have donated monies to the event, such as Freaker USA, UNCW’s iPrint Business Center, UNCW’s Bookstore, Port City Java, PT’s Olde, Fashioned Grille, Michaelangelo’s Pizza, McAlister’s Deli, Yellow Dog Discs, Island Passage at Lumina Station, Island’s Fresh Mex Grill, The Bellamy Mansion, El Cerro Grande (Monkey Junction), Fort Fisher Aquarium, UNCW Athletics, Chick-Fil-A (Market Street), UNCW Campus Dining, Mellow Mushroom, Cape Fear Museum, Might as Well Bar and Grill, Atlantis (the Creative Magazine of UNCW), and Watson Electrical. The UNCW Career Center, too, has made a donation in the form of complimentary padfolios for attendees. As well, tickets were procured from the Thalian Association and the USS North Carolina Battleship.
Beyond the fashion show, knowledge can be gained through the discussion panels and networking sessions that will be held throughout the day on Friday. All of events are free and contain invaluable information.
“If you’re in the job market, it’s up to you to make sure that your image is consistent with the messages you are intending to communicate,” Kresge concludes.
Dress for Success Fashion Show
Warwick Center Ballroom, UNCW Campus
Friday, March 21st, 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.