Congratulations! You are in grad school; you have made it to the big leagues! As a graduate student you are working closer with the faculty and are treated as their right hand person when it comes to your duties as a research assistant, teaching assistant, grader, reader, or any other title the university has bestowed upon you. However, you might be surprised to find that you still have to prove yourself and you are in competition with the other grad students in your cohort for fellowships, grants, and other perks. Making a good impression and establishing yourself as a young professional is crucial. Like it or not, the way you present yourself on the outside has an effect on how your competence and professionalism are judged. Starting your graduate school studies is a busy and exciting time. You have more tasks on your list than you can realistically tick off and all of them seem urgent. If the last thing on your mind is your outfit, it’s completely understandable but keep in mind that your professors, colleagues, students, and prospective employers will most likely judge by their first impression of you.Much of that is based on how you dress as a graduate student. It is generally better to be thought of as the student who “overdresses” than the one who under-dresses.It is best to play it safe in the first week or two, see what other grad students are wearing, and adjust accordingly. Also look at the professors in your department and take clues from them. If they all wear casual, artsy, or businesslike outfits, you should follow their lead accordingly. Try not to look too casual compared to the junior faculty in your department. Your goal is to look like someone who could make a smooth transition from being a grad student to being an adjunct or an assistant professor.
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