Black engineering students strut their stuff

Sharing NSBE Professional Fashion Show stage are winners Austin Williams and Bryana Pittman. Photo Courtesy: Andrew Nutall, Graphics Chair of NSBE

Having discovered some new Next Top Models, the Florida A&M and Florida State University Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) hosted its Professional Fashion Show Thursday.

Their aim: teaching students the importance of proper professional attire in corporate America and how to successfully get dressed for a job interview.

With two judges and five contestants, the event launched with some stellar runway walks and poses. Each contestant had a chance to introduce themselves and showcase their “model walk,” as well as their best business drip.

The winners, Austin Williams and Bryana Pittman, blew the competition away and were all smiles while doing so. Williams, dressed in a grey suit with light textures and brown leather Stacey Adams shoes, strutted his stuff as he walked the red carpet with confidence. Immediately following was Pittman, in an elegant black button-down blouse and pinstripe trousers, as she sashayed past the crowd and on to the stage.

As the contestants made their debut, the crowd engaged with many “oh’s” and “awe’s” while also giving out some pro-tips that may better each look.

NSBE President Raekwon Jones stressed the importance of professionalism in the workplace, specifically during an interview.

“It’s pretty simple, you don’t want to wear things that take away from you or distract the interviewer such as wearing an iced out Rolex or a bright red suit,” Jones said. “For a man, it’s a suit and tie. Make sure it’s fitted nicely, no jewelry because that seems more luxurious. For women, always have a blazer, dress modestly, and wear the appropriate shoes.”

Throughout the fashion show, the question arose whether or not creativity and individualism should be allowed to be expressed more freely, as far as fashion, in the corporate world or if the current state of professionalism in the workplace is still more fitting. The answers were mixed as some students found professionalism necessary and viewed it as a way to keep judgments out of the work environment.

Others pushed for the belief that fashion, creativity, and feeling the best about yourself is a significant key to being successful and can ultimately reflect in your work.

“I feel like our generation is the change-maker so I do feel like we are already breaking some of corporate America’s rules,” said Pittman, a second-year engineering student. “I do hope to see us be able to express ourselves more in the workplace and to see corporations be more accepting of their employees’ individualism. Some people really do work better while feeling comfortable about how they look and feel.”

A tie-tying contest took place near the end of the show in which guys and girls joined in on some friendly competition to see who can properly tie a tie the quickest. During this time, many of the event goers exchanged advice and small hacks about what they have learned when it comes to getting ready for a job interview; such as men wearing a clip on their tie to keep it from moving, women preferring to wear heels no higher than two inches to stay comfortable, and that black suits are typically seen at funerals and are a bit too formal for the workplace.

Lanaria Johnson, a fourth-year accounting major at Florida State, says she felt like she was walking away from the event with a better understanding of what it means to be and look professional — and why it is so important to know the code of ethics in the working world.

“I came out tonight because I am about to graduate college soon and that means it is time to start interviewing for jobs,” Johnson said. “I had an understanding of what it meant to dress up for a job interview but now I am more confident in what to wear when the day comes. The tips and ticks are going to come in handy in the next few months and it has me kind of excited now.”

With another successful event under their belt, the members of NBSE are getting ready and hoping for a large turnout for their upcoming virtual professional development fair next Thursday.