The lights dimmed and two models strolled the catwalk to the strains of Vampire Weekend’s “Unbelievers” thumping over the sound system. But instead of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, the A-listers sitting in the front row at this fashion show were Daniels College of Business undergraduate students learning what to wear—and what not to wear—to an interview, the office and other professional gatherings.

dress-code-oct-2016The fashion show—called “The Dress Code”—is part of the Daniels Professional Development Program (DPDP), which, as of this fall, is a required component of the Daniels Core Curriculum. The program is designed to help undergraduate students master skills such as leadership and interpersonal communication through engaging experiences outside the classroom.

“Becoming a successful business leader requires more than knowledge and intelligence,” said Lisa Victoravich, assistant dean for Undergraduate Programs and associate professor in the School of Accountancy. “To be successful, business leaders must exhibit strong interpersonal communication skills, business etiquette and the power to make strategic decisions. The DPDP requires students to participate in experiential activities to master these kinds of skills.”

Built into classes students are already taking, the DPDP has been seamlessly integrated with Daniels’ undergraduate curriculum with requirements that include learning how to write a resume and cover letter, participating in mock interviews, attending at least one career fair, and developing a profile on LinkedIn. Additional workshops augment DPDP programming, and include The Dress Code event, case interviewing, salary negotiation, networking, how to search for a job or internship, and much more.

Exposing students to the content of the DPDP early in their college careers is not just advantageous, it’s necessary, according to Pat Perrella, executive director of Career Services, which runs the DPDP in conjunction with Undergraduate Programs.dress-code-oct-2016-male

“We’re making sure that all undergraduate students get core professional development programming early in their Daniels experience,” he said. “The career space is becoming more and more competitive, and if students wait until their senior year, they’re missing opportunities to line themselves up for the best jobs. Companies are coming to us saying that they want to engage with freshman and sophomores. [The DPDP] helps prepare students early to land internships while they’re here and full-time jobs when they graduate.”

Other opportunities for professional development are offered to students in tandem with the DPDP, including the LEAD Mentorship Program, which pairs students with business professionals who serve as mentors and with whom students meet regularly throughout the academic year. Additionally, there’s the Job Shadow Program that allows students to explore a company or industry of interest to them.

But, as students learned at The Dress Code event, dressing for success is the first step in being successful. So what should you avoid wearing in a professional environment? Wrinkled shirts, ties that are too short, leggings and Birkenstock sandals all made the list of what not to wear.