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5 Wardrobe Staples You Need For Your Summer Internship

After working your butt off for months on end, you finally scored your dream internship for the summer! You’ve followed the appropriate steps after accepting your internship, figured out where to live, and even learned the truth about common internship myths. All that’s left on your summer internship to-do list? Figuring out what to wear!

While your style should still reflect your personality, there are a few key pieces that every collegiette should have going into their summer internship to look polished and professional!

A Professional Purse

While your hot pink clutch with gold accents might be perfect for nights out on the town, it’s not exactly office-appropriate. Go for something in neutral colors that can class up any outfit, but beyond that, make sure your bag is functional, too.

“It should be the kind of bag that goes with everything, so that if you have to look more professional one day, it will go with that outfit, but if you dress down some days, it should go with that, too,” said Colette Rodger, Manager of Internships at Penn State. “You want the kind of purse that you can wear with anything and everything, and you want it to be big enough to hold whatever you may potentially need throughout your day on the job.”

“Being an intern is sometimes comparable to being Mary Poppins,” said Kelsey Mulvey, a junior at Boston University. “You have your phone, wallet, ‘walking shoes,’ iPad for the commute to your internship... the list goes on! Just make sure you pick a bag that is sturdy and has a lot of compartments (so you can keep yourself organized).”

Hang one of these gorgeous bags on your shoulder to look professional in a heartbeat:

Tall Tote from The Limited, $69.90

BDG Triple-Pocket Tote Bag from Urban Outfitters, $59

Role Reversal Bag in Mocha and Teal from ModCloth, $69.99 (This bag is especially great because you can wear it in mocha while you’re in the office, then reverse it to the teal side after you’re off the job!)

A Versatile Blazer

Though you’re likely to be sweaty and warm on your way to the office, chances are that the AC will be cranked by the time that you get there. Cover up an adorable tank-top with a blazer and go from pretty to professional in no time!

 “You might be going in in the morning and it’s hot and sunny outside, so you have that cute little strappy dress on that is just perfect for that 85 degree day,” said Rodger, “but when you get into work, that’s not appropriate. You need to cover that up. Blazers are a way of dressing yourself up to look more appropriate in the work place, because showing too much skin is not good.”

Blazers are hot right now, so it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be able to find them in tons of shapes, sleeve-lengths, fabrics, and colors! Which ones are the best for the job?

“Darker is always better,” said Rodger. “And neutral, because it goes with everything. Your blacks, tans—I don’t know if I’d go with white unless you’re really good at keeping yourself clean, because any marks will look unprofessional—and brown is always good as well. And make sure it has pockets! You don’t want to be talking to your supervisor with your phone and ID badge in your hands.”

A few looks you could try:

Silence & Noise Ex-Boyfriend Blazer from Urban Outfitters, $49

Open-Front Blazer from Forever 21, $29.80

Ruched-Sleeve Studio Stretch Jacket from Express, $108

A Lightweight Cardigan

If your internship is a little more on the casual side (or if you’re just not big on blazers), the other option for fending off goosebumps in an office that goes hard on the air conditioning is a lightweight cardigan.

“You want to be able to wear those cute spaghetti strap tops without looking inappro at the office,” said Jessica Johnson, a junior at The University of Alabama. “A cardigan covers your shoulders, but once the clock strikes 5 and you are meeting pals for dinner or drinks, you can take the cardigan off and it's like you've got a whole new outfit that's not so ‘office.’”

“You’ll be wearing a dress or a sleeveless blouse to deal with the heat outside, but once you’re inside, you’ll be shivering because the air conditioning will be blasting to cool everyone off,” Rodger said. “Cardigans are generally a little less professional than blazers, so you can go with more colorful options for these and show off your personality a bit more. Obviously black and brown go with everything, but you can go beyond that and have some fun with it.”

Check out these choices:

 V-Neck Cardigan from Forever21, $12.80

The Sexy Cardi Sweater from Victoria’s Secret, $29.50

Cotton Cardigan from American Eagle, $29.95

A Good Pair of Flats

As much as we’d all love to rock heels to work every day, when you’re working 9-5, your feet tend to start throbbing sometime around lunch. Though you can’t wear your favorite flip-flops into the office, a comfortable-but-professional pair of flats is the next best thing!

“Every girl has to have flats,” Rodger said. “When you’re walking from one place to the next, you’ll hate wearing those stilettos. You can always just stick them in your purse if you’re feeling ambitious about rocking the heels all day, but this way at least you’ve got them as a backup. Your feet will thank you.”

Try one of these pairs:

Colorblock Flat from American Eagle, $29.95

Lucky Brand Emmie Ballet Flats from Victoria’s Secret, $59

Amedia Flat from Aldo, $40

A Pencil Skirt

To look professional without pulling on a pair of dress pants, a pencil skirt is an absolute must for summer interns trying not to sweat the whole way to work. However, make sure that your skirt isn’t too short or too tight—the only thing worse than being unprofessional is being inappropriate!

“It goes with everything, especially a black one,” Rodger said. “Just be careful how much skin you’re showing—try to stick to longer skirts that hit three fourths of the way to your knee. Nothing super elastic or tight, either! Make sure it’s an appropriate fabric and it doesn’t gap or wrinkle when you sit or walk.”

Here are a few options:

Studio Stretch Welt Pocket Pencil Skirt from Express, $59.90

Essential Woven Pencil Skirt from Forever 21, $17.80

Notched Hem Pencil Skirt from The Limited, $49.90


With these items in your wardrobe, you’re sure to show up on your first day dressed to impress (and not to sweat to death in the summer heat!). 

Alicia serves as an Assistant Editor for Her Campus. She graduated from Penn State in 2015 with degrees in Journalism and Spanish and a minor in International Studies. Before she joined HC full-time, Alicia worked for the editorial team as an intern, editor of the Her Story section, editor of the Career section, standard content writer, viral content writer, and News Blogger. When she's not busy writing or editing, Alicia enjoys attempting to become a yogi, cooking, practicing her wine tasting skills, hanging out with her Friends (you know—Chandler, Monica, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe & Joey?) and city-hopping her way across the globe. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @aliciarthomas.
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