This month marks my 10-year career anniversary.

I consider myself incredibly lucky for having started working at a very young age. I was a few months short of 19 years old when I got my first ever part time job.  It was through one of our friends, who promised us quick (although small) cash, through getting part time jobs as events usherettes with a small but respected event management agency.

Back in the day, I had no idea what an event usherette meant, or a corporate event for that matter. Google was not widely used as it is today and so I had to depend solely on asking here and there and depending on individual views as my source of knowledge.

So in my first few months (ok maybe years..) I was very young, "soft", inexperienced and basically screaming “please take advantage of me!”. Mistakes happened, people were fired, events went wrong, bosses went crazy and so to say I learnt from those first few years a couple of lessons, is an understatement. It has basically founded my entire career path, and contributed overwhelmingly to the woman I am today.

Lesson #1: Should we always dress to impress?

One of my all-time idols (being a strong-willed, ambitious and a very successful woman), is Coco Chanel, who said “Everyday is a fashion show and the world is your runway”, and I agree to a great extent. Maybe if I ever get the chance to add my personal touch to it, I would say “..and always make sure it’s appropriate to the place/occasion/culture as this can be a total buzz kill and create some permanent serious damage ”.

When I first started at this young age, the millennium fashion was still dominating (Think mega silver wedge shoes, silver dresses and silver caps? You get the lovely picture), but when it came to my job interview, I tried to follow my mother's advice and wore that formal suit.

Looking back at it, I really don’t think it mattered that much to get all dressed up for the interview, since clearly the organizer knew what to expect from a bunch of 18 year-old high school girls. However she did gave us very strict guidelines on what we should wear to our first ever event; a Medical Conference held in a 5-star property. This uniform was formal black pants and black shirts.

Terrified and nervous, most ladies followed the rules strictly and hoped to get her approving nod upon arrival. Now me coming from a bit of a conservative family, my clothes were a bit on the “loose” side. No clingy revealing tops, no tight pants, no provocative heels….which was exactly what one of the team members chose as her attire for her first day at work.

The lady was what you will consider very attractive. She's got a you-will-turn-your-head-twice-to-look-at-her physique and obviously loved flaunting it. So you can only imagine, that wearing such a wardrobe choice while “ushering” more than 200 doctors around all day who, indeed, were looking more than twice at her, did not only send our boss raging, but she hardly waited till the end of the day to 'usher' her towards the exit.

This is one of the tens of examples I encountered during my career which proved what can go wrong from a bad wardrobe choice, but this one in particular being my first lesson, did leave a very big lasting  impression on me. I still remember the oblivious look at the lady’s face when she was getting told off, the angry boss who was muttering under her breath every time an attendee made a sarcastic/harsh comment about the girl, and the fact that even though the girl was doing a good job for a first day at work, she was not taken seriously.

Moral of the story:

You should dress to impress indeed, but you need to take into consideration the nature of the job, the culture of the company or country, and always remember that how you will dress will impact to a large extent people's first impression on you. For a first few weeks at a job, its best to leave people speechless from your swiftness and smartness and NOT staring at how beautiful your..ehm, hair is.

Nada ElMahdiComment