HC UFL's Guide to Career Showcase & Interview Fashion

Career Showcase: A staple event of any University of Florida fall or spring semester. For the uninformed, Showcase is basically a two-day event where companies from a wide range of industries come seeking qualified people for positions that they have open. It happens a month into the semester at the O’Connell Center, and it’s quite a whirlwind. For an engineering major like me, it’s especially important because I have to make a great first impression on recruiters since I can’t exactly do engineering work in the middle of the O’Connell Center.

One thing that can be daunting about Showcase is dressing properly for the event. What I’ve learned through trial and error is that dressing for the event is not hard if you know what you’re doing. All you need is a nice blazer or coat, a shirt to go underneath, some slacks or a skirt with tights and a nice pair of shoes. It’s very likely you can scrounge through your closet (or the closet of someone you know) for many of these items. If you don’t have anything and don’t want to spend money, check out the Molm Family Gator Career Closet where you can check out professional clothing for up to one week with a valid UF ID.

HC UFL is here to help you figure out successful business professional fashion, and thankfully, I spotted some stylish people at Showcase had some great outfits. Keep these tips in mind the next time you're prepping for an interview or career-related event.

1. Have a coordinating color scheme

It’s great to stand out, but it’s worse to stand out if your colors don’t go well together. Color coordination shows that you care about looking professional, which can be interpreted as you caring about your work. Additionally, color coordination can make a recruiter’s impression of you positive simply because of the visual appeal. Not achieving it can be unsettling and cause them to be turned off. If you don’t have an eye for color coordination, stick to black and white. If you’re really brave, then represent the orange and blue, as they’re complementary colors. Read more about color coordination in Business Insider.

Carina Diaz, a 20-year-old materials science and engineering sophomore, exemplifies color coordination. She goes for a muted neutral scheme with a gray jacket, black undershirt, pants and shoes. 

2. Have clean lines in your outfit

The best way to think of this is how clean cut is your outfit. Is it wrinkled? Are there an uneven number of ruffles? Does your jacket look crisp? It’s one thing to have an outfit, but it’s another to wear it right. Remember the unsettling nature of bad color coordination? Bad lines are like that, and they can also make you look like a slob. I unfortunately saw a lot of people with oversized coats that did not suit them well at Showcase this year.

Alexa Beaulieu, a 21-year-old industrial engineering junior (left), and Michael Miller, a 20-year-old materials science and engineering junior (right), have clean lines in their outfits. The lines make the outfit appear to fit them well, which makes them look sleek and professional.

3. Don’t forget your nametag!

Nothing is more awkward than going up to a recruiter and give them your elevator pitch, to then hear them say that they’re not looking to recruit someone with your major. A name tag can prevent that awkwardness. At the very least, your nametag should have your name and major. You can get a nametag from a student organization you’re in, order from a sign making business or utilize the label makers that they have available at Showcase.

Milena Aimi, a 20-year-old materials science and engineering major, has a nametag with her name, major and college. This is beneficial to her because recruiters can easily connect her name to her face.

4. Show your personality with fun, smart accessories

If you’re not feeling neutral colors or traditional business professional style, stand out! If the individual clothing items are high-quality and tie into your personality and the image you want to convey, then you can totally rock that purple suit or metallic accents. Professional doesn’t have to be boring, so don’t be afraid to add your own personal style into your Showcase looks.

Patricia Carceller Suarez, a 21-year-old aerospace and mechanical engineering senior, had a flouncy cardigan on top of a simple black outfit. She stood out from the crowd and caught my eye specifically because of that one item. It made her look unique while still being professional and collected. She meant business.

5. When in doubt, smile

If standing out with your fashion doesn’t sound like your thing, make yourself memorable by being a friendly face. You want to be approachable to recruiters—they don’t want to talk to someone that looks sour and standoffish. There’s nothing much to say this tip other than just do it! For inspiration, take a look at Lucas Sanders, a 22-year-old computer science senior, who’s visibly excited to be at the career event and is eager to get a job.

6. Wear your confidence well

Career showcase will eat you alive if you let it, that’s why you have to be confident and brave it out. Everybody there is looking for jobs and competing against you. Only you can prove to recruiters that you are the best candidate. Don’t let all your hard work in school go to waste by being too afraid when talking to recruiters. Just look at how I’m smiling and striking a pose despite freaking out about getting an internship!

All in all, Career Showcase — or any interview or networking event — won’t be as scary as it sounds as long as you know how to dress for it. Looking professional is half the battle, so hopefully these tips help you get your foot in the door (in style).