First Impressions Are Underrated

March 05, 2012

By Katrice

When I made an unsolicited visit to Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine in June of 2006, I came wearing the best interview attire I had available to me: a crisp white button-down ruffle blouse, black pencil skirt and black heels. No one was expecting me, as the magazine wasn't hiring for any editorial positions. But I was invited in for a brief meeting with the current editor. It was a conversation that I earnestly believe only took place because I arrived having carefully considered the first impression I wanted to make. 

I was offered the opportunity to interview on the spot for an apprenticeship in the editorial department. {My goal was to land an unpaid editorial assistantship for at least 20 hours a week to learn the magazine editorial process and work my way up. My rationale, which I shared with the editor: I could work another job in my free time to cover my bills.} A perfect scenario, I thought ... because I didn't have any in-house magazine experience but was no stranger to sacrifice. Long story short
  I didn't get the apprenticeship; It went to a deserving Clark Atlanta University student who was studying journalism. When I found out, I cried to my older brother because I thought I wasn't good enough to even get the lowest position though in the back of my mind I respected that a student needed scholarship money more than I needed the opportunity at that point. 

The next day, I made an appointment with a temp agency in Union City, Ga., for later that week and went to meet the representative in the very same manner. I wore a different blouse and skirt ensemble with heels, and I was placed in an office within days. For two months, I worked two separate temporary posts through that agency until one day receiving a voicemail message from Atlanta Tribune about an opening on the editorial staff. Not only had the editor remembered me, she was offering me an interview for a full-time paid position. It wasn't what I wore, but I'm confident that factoring in what I should wear made a difference. ... As you can surmise, I got the job that lead to this point in my career. And though I completely credit God with the favor that placed me on that editor's mind, I did my very best to give Him something to bless. Being prepared for opportunity is key.

If you talk to any Atlanta Tribune intern who has worked with us over the last six years, they will tell you that our editorial staff is scrupulous about their presentation of themselves from how they dress to how they speak. We have a business casual standard for day-to-day operations, but if we expect visitors in our office for meetings or have a conference, we wear business attire. Never mind whether the meeting will involve us or if we'll be working the background of an event.  

We {society on the whole} are becoming increasingly comfortable with doing just enough. And somehow failing to realize doing "just enough" will earn you the very same. I hear people say all the time that they don't want to be judged by their appearance, and in theory  I can understand that sentiment to some extent. But, when you want to be a cut above, every single nuance of your presentation needs to be a cut above. 

People often ask me how I got to where I am with the magazine and I generally get right to the meat of the story. But, I wanted to take just a moment to share my beginning. I didn't have exactly what I wanted to wear when I drove up to the magazine's office. But, I put together the best of what I did have understanding what all would be considered if I was to be taken seriously, and I still do the same today. Consider how my story may have turned out had I dropped by the office in skinny jeans and a T-shirt to introduce myself and leave my resume. ... 

If you ask me, first impressions are everything. 

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20 comments

  1. I love hearing this story. It inspires me every time. First impressions are lasting impressions. Hence why I am nervous about what I am wearing on this college tour.

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  2. This was so inspiring! You're right, we as a society are much too casual and it's a problem. I think it translates into other areas of our lives as well but that's another issue all together.

    Love this post!

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  3. What an awesome and inspiring story Katrice!! I strongly believe in first impressions, and I strive to make sure my first impression leaves a positive impression everytime!!!

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  4. awesome post, had to share it...very inspiring

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  5. Thanks for sharing, Katrice! This is really great...and somewhere out there, someone needed to hear this :)

    xoxo
    Eboni

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  6. Katrice, I had a similar conversation with my daughter who was concerned about "being the only one dressed up" for an interview. First impressions are lasting ones. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. @TinaLou...

      I know it can be frustrating to get the message across...Have the same issue with GROWN FOLK! but your daughter will thank you when she's outpacing her peers.

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  7. Katrice, I needed to read this. I was starting to feel overdressed for my job as an educator because most of the staff wear whatever. I realized a long time ago my visual presentation of self is just as important to my students as any other instruction I provide.

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  8. Great post! I completely agree. So many people don't want to do what it takes to be successful and to make a good impression. The culture now is instant gratification. No one wants to do the old fashion leg work or dress to impress. Thanks for sharing this!

    Vonae Deyshawn
    www.myvirtueplace.com

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  9. This was such an awesome story and you are soo right! The idea of dressing to impress seems alien to young people today and I just don't get it! I've been working in a corporate environment since I was 17 and I people used to think I was dressing up everyday. I'm like, No, this is called business attire. LOL. I still cringe at open toe shoes and flip flop looking sandals in the office! I just don't get it...

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  10. You speak the truth miss! I am a huge stickler for first impressions and not just in dress but online as well. As bloggers we put ourselves out there so our digital home needs to be a reflection of us. Great post!

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  11. you are so right and even on the blogsphere first impression matters very much.

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  12. Every time I reflect on your story, I am in awe of your attitude during your process! Keep Rockin' K!

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  13. That was a wonderful story Katrice and because of your favor with GOD and your faithfulness He has truly blessed you. Like I tell you all the time, when I grow up (LOL) I want to be just like you and thank GOD and Lamar (Michael) for introducing me to his lovely family. Tell your Mom hello for me and when you talk to Nikki, give her my love. Such a blessing and fashionable young lady. love ya

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  14. I am definitely inspired! Thank you for this awesome post!

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  15. Thank you for reading and for your feedback, Mylah.

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  16. I definitely agree with the sentiment of our "just enough" society. Presentation is everything! Great story.

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