Work experience can be a fun and exciting time, since it’s the first opportunity most students have to actually acquire some hands-on practical experience. However, this also means that much of the workplace etiquette is probably new to you, and that’s okay! One question many students find themselves asking before their first work experience placement is this: what do you actually have to wear?
Although most work experience settings will likely not have an official dress code or uniform, the general rule is that you should wear something ‘smart casual’. This means that you don’t have to turn up in a suit, but you shouldn’t turn up in a tracksuit, either. A button up shirt or blouse, trousers or a pencil skirt, and appropriate shoes (such as flats) are what most companies expect students completing work experience to wear.
Still stuck? Don’t worry! This article is here to help you decide what to wear on your work experience.
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Do you have to wear uniform to work experience?
Generally, you probably won’t be required to wear any sort of special uniform to your work experience. However, there may be situations in which you will be asked to wear a uniform!
For example, if you were completing work experience for a charity shop, a café or a sports centre, you may be required to wear their uniform.
If the company you’re undertaking work experience with does have a uniform, it should be provided to you. For ideas on where to go for work experience, I’d recommend checking out this Think Student article!
However, most places don’t require uniforms. You will typically be expected to use your own judgement when it comes to what you’re going to wear.
If you’re really unsure as to the dress code of your employer, it’s never a bad idea to call/email to ask; after all, asking questions shows initiative which employers are looking for!
Work experience is important, so don’t let any anxieties about what you have to wear put you off. Check out this Think Student article for reasons why work experience is important.
What should you wear to work experience?
What you’ll wear to your work experience will very likely depend on the kind of setting you’re entering. Different things will be appropriate for different places!
As a general rule, it’s probably best to avoid casual clothing, such as graphic t-shirts, jeans, a tracksuit, cargo trousers, leggings, shorts, trainers (unless dark and/or inconspicuous) or sandals.
However, there are some situations in which these clothes may be appropriate. For example, if your work experience is in a nursery class, some dark jeans (that you don’t mind getting dirty!) won’t be inappropriate.
For most settings, ‘smart’ and office wear is the safest play. These include button up shirts, blouses, trousers, pencil skirts, and appropriate shoes are what you can expect to be wearing.
‘Smart casual’ clothes, like smart dresses and polo shirts, for example, are also acceptable. Make sure you wear something you will be comfortable in, and generally trust your judgement!
You probably won’t be required to wear something as formal as a suit, for example.
As mentioned previously, if you are really unsure of what to wear, asking the company you’ll be sitting work experience under is never a bad option. You can also check out this article from Success at School for more advice about what to wear on work experience.
Is there a dress code for work experience?
No, most workplaces will not have an official dress code for students who want to take up work experience there. However, companies will still have a general idea of what they want their employees to wear even if this is not officially stated.
As stated earlier in this article, if there is no official guidance on what you should wear, contacting your work experience placement is always a good place to start.
After all, you may find that the workplace dress code is more strict/lenient than you were expecting!
Anyone who is taking up a work experience placement will not be expected to conform strictly to the dress code of wherever your placement is, as an actual employee would be.
That doesn’t mean that you are free to completely ignore it, of course! However, if you, for example, didn’t wear the kind of shoes set out in the dress code, your employer probably won’t mind too much since you are only there for work experience.
Overall, make sure what you wear is appropriate, comfortable, and within the general standards of your setting.
Will you be expected to wear something in particular for work experience?
Unless your employer directly tells you that you must wear something specific to your work experience (which is unlikely), then your employers will leave it up to your personal judgement to decide what is best.
They may still have expectations of what you will be wearing, though.
Because of the age you complete work experience (Year 10 and/or Year 12), you will most likely know a bit about the company you’re sitting your placement under. This might be, for example, because one of your family members works there.
Therefore, employers will know this, and they will probably expect you to have a rough idea of what they are looking for.
Most employers expect work experience students to dress smart-casually. This usually means a smart shirt (ironed or press), and some sensible bottoms (trousers or a skirt of appropriate length, whichever your preference is).
Check out this article from Indeed for a full guide to the smart-casual dress code.
For transgender students undertaking work experience, government guidance states that you are entitled to wear the clothing of the gender you identify as (if your company has a uniform)!
Can you be removed from work experience because of what you wear?
It’s very unlikely that you’ll be removed from a setting for what you were wearing, but it is definitely possible. If you are wearing something inappropriate in a setting, then your employer may ask you to change or leave.
For example, if you were sitting work experience at a bank, and you turned up in a tracksuit, the company would probably ask you to change into something more appropriate.
Remember, you are just sitting work experience (for free) at a setting, you are not an employee, so it is much easier for companies to turn you away if you are dressing (or even acting) inappropriately.
If you’re unsure as to whether something you’re wearing might be considered inappropriate, it’s better not to wear it and be on the safe side.
However, if you feel you are being unfairly discriminated against during your work experience because of what you are wearing, this is a different issue.
You should contact the company you are sitting work experience under, or your school, if you feel you are being discriminated against for your clothing (such as religious items of clothing).
Bullying in the workplace is never acceptable no matter whether you are a full-time employee or just attending work experience!