This story was originally published on the Dress for Success New Orleans website.

Last Tuesday, our Professional Women’s Group heard from Ulta representatives about makeup and personal grooming in the workplace. The presentation focused on the role of skincare and makeup in enhancing and accentuating our favorite features, rather than covering up insecurities. Going around the room, we shared our personal takes on beauty tips, natural skincare, and everyone’s one essential makeup look — a dash of mascara or a swipe of red lipstick, moments in the morning that complete the business professional and leave us walking out the door with the confidence to take on the day. The presentation was less focused on layout out a guideline for makeup products and styles, and more focused on allowing our Professional Women’s Group a moment to think about their individual identities and how they express those identities in the workplace, with makeup serving as a complement to their business professional attire.

And the essence of putting on makeup is that it’s a few minutes in the morning that are just for yourself. It’s the luxury of taking that time for yourself and no one else — a luxury that many of our PWG members with children and other dependents may not have time for. We are all familiar with the common airplane guideline to put on our own oxygen masks before helping others, but in practice, with the responsibilities of children, family friends, and a prolonged job search, it may seem as though no one has gotten their oxygen mask on. The same way that a makeup or skincare routine requires at least a couple moments just for yourself, the job search and interviewing process demands that individual time to research employment, update resumes, and take recruiters’ phone calls. Later on, career development demands an investment in oneself, through reading more about the industry, attending networking meetings like the Professional Women’s Group, or seeking a mentor to provide guidance around goal-setting for individual career paths.

Dress for Success New Orleans helps our clients take a second to put that oxygen mask on first, and accelerate their job search and career development process. During our suiting and career center appointments, the sole focus is on our client — with a one-on-one client-volunteer model, we’re able to provide women with a space to express themselves, to pick out a work wardrobe that they feel confident in, to tailor an eye-catching resume with the help of our templates, and to continue to network with other women once they’ve gotten the job. And that support is highly individualistic — just like there’s no formula for the right work outfit, the support in the career center is centered around our client and what her background is. One client may need to learn how to use Google Docs since she can’t access a word processor on her home laptop, and another client may be creating her first resume and is learning how to highlight keywords and action verbs in her writing.

Similarly, we tailor our support to help clients find careers that they’re interested in and best equipped for, and once we’ve found that dream job or career in our discussion, we put the power of all of our tools behind our clients — resume templates, email help, mock interviews, and open computer labs to work on evaluations or answer emails from recruiters in an area free of distractions. And in our Professional Women’s Group and beyond, it’s evident that taking advantage of all of those career center resources is what makes the greatest impact in the job search process. It’s also clear that the initial investment of time, resources, and positive energy in the career center of one client has a multiplying effect — once that oxygen mask is on one person, it’s so much easier to help families and uplift communities. The pressures of life make it difficult to step back to get that mask on, but at Dress for Success New Orleans, we focus on our clients as individuals, to create individual successes that will ultimately better the communities all around us.

Written by

Robertson Scholar at UNC & Duke, Founder of Teens Transforming Technology

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store