If you read my last blog post about how to “Dress Yourself into a Job” these next several paragraphs may seem like quite the departure. However I DO stick to my guns when I say it’s ALWAYS better to over-dress than under-dress.
Why is it that as we grow up we learn that when we have important things to do we have to wear “dress clothes”? In high school we wear tuxedos and gowns to proms and in college we wear suits to interviews for internships and jobs. But is it really necessary that we maintain this pattern for life? Surely, there are people doing incredible things who aren’t wearing suits. Who’s to say that the CEO of a big company in a suit is any better or smarter than some kid in a t-shirt running a startup? Especially if that kid is Mark Zuckerberg who’s currently worth $17.5 billion. Is there really a difference between a database administrator at Facebook and a DBA at IBM?
Image Source: http://tommytoy.typepad.com
I’m clearly making generalizations in an effort to highlight my point, so if you work at Facebook and wear a suit or work for IBM and don’t…please don’t take any offense. The issue I’m trying to investigate as I write these words is to understand the differences between the work done at a small entrepreneurial start-up versus the work done at a large multinational. Clearly there are different personality types and psychological motivators that would influence someone in one direction or the other… but what about the skillsets? Do they differ as dramatically as the personality types?
Let’s take HTML-5 for example. Recently I attended a @GETsyr speaker series where I heard a panel of speakers talk about Mobile Application Development and for obvious reasons, HTML-5 came up. The interesting thing about this was that there were representatives from GE and JPMorgan on the corporate side and Crossborders and Rounded Development on the startup/entrepreneurial side. They were all seeking out people with HTML-5 coding skills.
Let’s take SQL skills for example. SQL is an international standard language for developing and interacting with relational databases of all kinds. SQL is used for a small MS Access database of potential investors for a startup as well as to interact with enterprise class five-9’s systems at leading financial services companies (five-9’s refers to systems that are available %99.999 of the time). I’ll concede that the application of SQL in these two scenarios might be different, but can we agree that both small and large have a need for someone with SQL skills?
This is the crux of the issue: Does the dress code and work environment dictate the type of person that takes the job or does it dictate the skillset of said person? I contend it’s the former. There are certain transferable skillsets that are valuable no matter where you take them. For this reason I suggest you focus on these skillsets and not on their application, as you’ll find that significantly narrows your available job opportunities. As a freshman in college you shouldn’t have to choose between corporate and startup, in fact, play your cards right and you may get the best of both worlds.
Tell us what you think…does wearing shorts or a suit change the work you do or just where you work?
Sam Disston is in his second year of the M.S. Information Management program at the iSchool at Syracuse University. He works part-time for J.P. Morgan Chase as a business analyst and is a graduate assistant for the Global Enterprise Technology program at the iSchool. He holds a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Spanish from Syracuse University.