Mailbag: What to wear to an business event & do I NEED a portfolio?

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Back to the mailbag! This time from an accounting student and new listener to The Bean Counter!

Hello Andrew,

I’m a new listener to your podcast and I have had the chance to only listen to a few of your episodes, but the ones I did listen to have really helped lead me in the right direction and have given me ideas about things I have not considered yet. Thank you for that. I am glad I found them it is very detailed and enjoyable and it’s great that is specifically tailored to the Accounting field.
I am writing to you today because I had a question in regards to Business type Boot Camps. Our school offered a week long Business Boot Camp which talks about the Insurance, Banking and Financial Services during the summer and I was wondering what you thought about them. Are they beneficial to attend? Do you have a chance to apply for jobs there or is it strictly listening to speakers? Do you need to dress up like you would to a job interview i.e. dress pants and blazer (I am a woman)? Should you bring some resumes with you?
I know you must be busy but it would be great if you could find some time to respond. Is there a good website I can use to do more research on this topic? Also, what is your though on portfolios, are they really necessary or it is just a bonus to have one?
Best Regards,
Loyal Listenerette
While I’ve redacted the name, she did tell us she’s a woman. Now if you haven’t checked out my comprehensive call with Fadwa Hilili on woman’s dress (as I’m obviously not an expert, check that our here.


While I don’t consider myself a female clothing expert, I do have some thoughts on these type of events!  I would recommend going in a skirt or pant suit. If it’s skirt, make sure it’s classy, not short skirts and with either apparel, wear a conservative blouse.
I would talk with as many people as possible when you’re there and here are some questions to think about asking:
  • Where do you work?
  • How long have you been there?
  • Are you from (insert city you’re in)?
  • How did you get involved with this event?
  • Where did you go to university?

Then try and ask tons of other questions from there. Get as many business cards as possible, then do the following:

  • Connect with them on LinkedIn (make sure you’re profile looks good). 
  • Send them a personalized professional email

And to end the women’s dress topic, I would always check out Their advice is sure to trump mine any day of the week:-)!

In regards to the portfolio, it depends. If you are very confident in your ability to obtain a position, and you have lot’s of time (i.e. multiple semesters left), you may not need to create a portfolio.

However, for candidates like me, it’s a MUST. While my GPA increased every semester after my freshman year, it was still a 3.23 when I started recruiting. I was nervous.

I wanted to put the recruiters in a position where they couldn’t say no to what I wanted.

So I made a portfolio, which you will be able to see if you buy The Bean Counter Course. My portfolio included a graph of my ever increasing (even though it was low) GPA. Check it out!

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 3.49.00 PM

One the left page, you can see the hockey stick movement. While I may not have NEEDED it, I turned a weakness into a strength. Instead of having my GPA as an “issue”, it turned into a cool story of how I overcame it!

In conclusion, it’s up to you and it depends on whether this is your last shot, or you can take things easy!


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