By Jules Banks
Roosevelt University is no stranger to helping students in need. However, the university took another leap forward by creating another resource to help what students find stressful: finding a job.
But it’s not finding an actual job; it’s helping find the right clothes to wear to an interview. Tuesday, Feb. 5 marked the grand opening of Roosevelt’s brand new “Dress for Success Career Closet.”
At the grand opening, which was actually two grand openings, one from 12 p.m to 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., there were light refreshments to draw in a crowd and gain public interest, as well as to congratulate the hard working group of people that brought the idea to life.
The project, led by the Homelessness and Food Insecurity Task Force (HFI Task Force) and assisted by Career Development, now offers an array of professional and business casual outfits that students may take free of charge. As well as the Career Closet, HFI also hosts a number of other amenities for students in need, such as shower stations and Roosevelt’s food pantry.
According to Pamela Thompson-Hill, director of Multicultural Student Support Services, the Career Closet is right on schedule. Originally, the idea was put on the back burner as the school focused on the food pantry, but once that task was up and running, Thompson-Hill and a small group of other staff members were in charge of getting the closet together.
“We were tasked to try to get it up and running by Spring ‘19, and this was towards the end of Fall ‘18, and miraculously, here we are,” Thompson-Hill said.
Kristen Swims, who is both a career counsellor for Roosevelt’s Career Development Center and another staff member on the Career Closet task force, explains that the Career Closet was made in order for every one of RU’s students to feel ready for the professional world.
“We’re really trying to bring in donations from people that is business professional attire,” Swims said. “So that students can feel comfortable and confident when they are interviewing, and when they’re on the first day on the job, or any form of a networking event or career conference or job fair.”
She also noted that Career Development would be hosting a job fair next month on Mar. 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Goodman Center. “The idea is that if you find something that you like, you can actually have it, and it’s yours,” Swims said.
Swims said that at the grand opening, there were at least 30 items of clothing donated. There are several drop-off points in the building where students and staff alike are free to donate clothing. These drop-off points include the Career Development Center at Wabash Room 324 and the Multicultural Student Support Services office located in the Auditorium Building Room 104.
Both are open at regular business hours. Students are encouraged to go through their closets to find gently used clothing to donate. The clothes must be free of rips, stains, or broken zippers or straps.
Suggested donations include: shirts, blouses, slacks, blazers, pullovers, sweaters, suits, professional shoes, skirts and belts. Miscellaneous items such as retail-style hangers, lint rollers, Febreeze for fabric and additional steamers are also welcome.
Swims said she hopes that the donations increase so that students of any body type can come in and comfortably find an outfit to wear.
“If you walk into the closet, and make an appointment, I mean one, sometimes that’s hard, in and of itself, just to say ‘Yeah, I actually need something.’ So when you go in, obviously, we want you to be able to find something,” Swims said.
Any student in need is allowed to set up an appointment and browse the Career Closet. Students are allowed to take four pieces of clothing per semester.
As of now, the Career Closet runs mainly on donations. However, Thompson-Hill said she believes that soon, the university can expand it even further.
“Currently, we’re operating on donations from faculty and staff; looking at exploring external resources, you know, donations from department stores, things of that nature, and possibly some additional funding down the road, but not right now,” Thompson-Hill said.
Thompson-Hill said a proposal has been submitted for student employment to be involved in the Career Closet, meaning that a work study option to help with the Career Closet would be available soon. “So you should see positions posted soon, if they’re not up already,” Thompson-Hill said.