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Real world has a dress code, too, students find

Leave the flip-flops, T-shirts and jeans at home when you're going to a job interview, students from five high schools learned last week.

Published February 1, 2006

NEW PORT RICHEY - Ric Hartwell is more of a muscle T-shirt kind of guy.

But last week, the River Ridge High School senior donned button-down pinstripes and Oscar de la Renta.

Not too shabby.

The guys in the men's department at Macy's thought he'd look good in the jacket, said Hartwell, 18. "It's nice for interviews."


"You Don't Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression" was the theme for Business Development Week's Education Day held last week at Marchman Technical Education Center.

Hartwell, an entrepreneur of sorts who is starting a personal training business, was one of a dozen students from River Ridge and Mitchell high schools to take part in a "What to Wear" fashion show for students enrolled in business programs at five local high schools.

What not to wear on an interview - flip-flops, jeans, T-shirts (especially those that show off your belly rings) also played into that, along with advice to make eye contact with the interviewer, smile and offer a firm, confident handshake.

Students from Hudson, Gulf and Ridgewood high schools also participated in the event, the latter two performing comical skits on the how to's of interviewing and good customer service skills.

"We usually have people from businesses come in to talk with the kids about this," said Pat Reeder, the career specialist at River Ridge. "We wanted the kids to take control of the program. I think it's more powerful than someone standing up and telling them what to do, what to wear."

Still, they got a little of that, too.

Rosalie Bennett, the ladies apparel manager at Macy's who emceed the show, offered her own advice.

For example, dress properly even if you're just picking up an application because some companies will interview right there on the spot.

Jay Kuhns, vice president of human resources at Brandon Regional Medical Center and the keynote speaker at a luncheon for students and business community members, also weighed in. Be honest, be yourself and come prepared with some questions of your own, he advised students.

This year, Education Day was geared to work ethics and employers' expectations, said Carole Pearson, who heads the Education Committee for the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce.

At the luncheon, students shared tables with professionals, which provided a good catalyst for all sorts of discussion, Pearson said. "It's important for students to hear it from the business community."

Michele Chamberlin, career specialist at Mitchell High, praised the professionals who came to help with the event. "I'm amazed that they want to take this time with our kids," she said. "It's a great opportunity that these kids are getting. It gets them out of the classroom, gives them interaction with business people instead of just having a teacher lecture to them."

[Last modified February 1, 2006, 01:04:14]

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