Photo by Anna Meassick | Career Closet helps students to put together formal outfits to make sure they are prepared and confident.
The University of Rhode Island created the Career Closet two years ago, as a resource to help students find affordable, professional attire and to avoid the difficulty of finding appropriate clothing.
The Career Closet has been on campus for two years now, helping students at URI make the best first impressions for interviews and events. Students can receive free advising on the appropriate modern styles for different events, and help accessing discounted professional clothing in stores near the University. The program was created as a result of student-employer feedback.
Program Supervisor Doug Ouimette said, “Employers are telling us our students aren’t dressing the way that they should be dressing when they show up to work, or for interviews, or for career fairs. They just don’t have that professional appearance.”
Students have also mentioned not having access to clothing, not knowing what to wear or even losing a job from wearing the wrong clothes. A group of fashion interns and advisors decided to address that by creating the Career Closet. The program works with students to create the optimal outfit for their specific event, making sure they are prepared and feeling confident.
“It is really different when you’re walking up to a possible employer when you’re wearing a well-tailored, good-looking suit in comparison to jeans and a t-shirt,” said intern Jake St. Hilaire. “It really is a first impression thing.”
The interns at the Career Closet are Textile, Fashion Merchandising and Design majors. These students learn through their own courses how to take measurements to find a perfect fit and how to develop an eye for the modern professional styles. The team of fashion interns can talk to students on a “peer to peer level” helping with online shopping or giving a second opinion on that important interview outfit.
The program partners with large stores such as JCPenney and Macy’s to coordinate access to discounted clothing. Students in the Talent Development program have access to an extra bit of help. If they work with the office and show that the lack of proper attire is impairing their opportunities, Career Closet will help pay for new clothing.
Through just visiting their office, students can do anything from trying on available clothing, shopping online with an intern or getting measured and sized for outfits.
“Based on the company you’re applying for, what they expect you to wear in that corporate atmosphere is different than other companies,” Ouimette said. Showing up to an interview without knowing the common attire from that company may make it look like you know nothing about their organization.
“One of the main obstacles the top person in my department had with me was I looked like I was still a college student,” said Ouimette. “I didn’t have access to a career closet.”
On Oct. 7, from 6-9 p.m., JCPenney on Bald Hill Road in Warwick is opening their store exclusively to URI students, providing an extra 40 percent off their current clearance price clothing. Free makeovers and $29 headshots are happening at the same time. A bus is available from campus to the store if you need transportation.
The Career Closet is located in Roosevelt Hall Room 122A.