Helping students dress for the professional world: Center for Career and Experiential Education unveils new ‘career closet’

To kick off the Univeristy of Rhode Island’s second annual “Professional Development Week” the Center for Career and Experiential Education, the Talent Development Program and Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design unveiled their newest project: a collection of clothes available for students in need of professional clothing, or the “career closet.”

The closet’s grand opening on Monday, Nov. 6 was held at Roosevelt Hall and hosted a fashion show to exhibit the clothes. The show incorporated easily accessible outfits, modeled by URI student volunteers.

This project managed to reach every type of student while remaining focused on the accessibility of the options displayed. Inspired by URI alumna Jarolyn Fernandez, who attended URI as a triple major, as well as being a part time worker and a caretaker for her family, the closet was meant to incorporate options for students of all socio-economic backgrounds.

Whilst balancing her life, Fernandez found herself struggling to put together a professional outfit when she was invited to speak at this past February’s Big Chill Event.

As she referred to Kim Stack, the director of the CCEE, Fernandez hoped that all students would have a resource to help them as Stack helped her.

Stack, who forefronted the idea for this project, reached out to TMD seniors looking for an internship with this new career closet. TMD majors Olivia Stalker, Stephanie Schramm and Sarah Pizzanello worked on this project along with other members of the CCEE to reach out to retailers that were interested in lending clothes for the show, sought out models and managed the behind the scenes of the show.

The fashion show exhibited what to wear and what not to wear in a professional environment.

The fashion show was enlightening for students to see but also fun to watch, as the CCEE staff made the environment fun and full of energy,” Stalker said.

The closet is now open in Roosevelt Hall to serve as a resource for students of all socio-economic backgrounds to refer to and to serve as “a great opportunity to help current students achieve and go after career expanding opportunities without having to worry about where they will obtain their professional clothing,” as Hernandez mentioned in her opening speech at the show.

The closet is meant to be a tribute to how URI is full of diversity, whether it be in ages, culture or socio-economic backgrounds.

Everyone at URI is working towards the same goal, despite what background they may come from, so why should dressing professionally only accommodate one set of students?  URI’s career closet has succeeded in not only showing students what is appropriate to wear, but it has also kept every single possible student in mind in doing so.