Suited for success
The suit, shirt and tie sophomore Dorian Evans put together was a fine blend of color, texture, and tailoring—with a dash of panache. It made Richard Jones, Rowan University’s dapper Dean of Students, absolutely swoon.
But for a first job interview, the suit was no good. Turns out even Jones, one of the University’s nattiest dressers, learned something during “Extreme Makeover: Dress for Success Edition,” an event organized by the Career Management Center to give Rowan students a head start on planning their perfect interview suits.
The right “look” for a first-time job seeker is important, said Ruben Britt, assistant director of the Career Management Center. That’s why, in addition to assisting students with every aspect of a job search—from securing internships to hosting employment fairs to resume critiquing to conducting mock interviews—the center hosted two events this semester focused solely on putting students on a solid sartorial path to success.
“I tell students that there are probably a dozen other candidates with similar qualifications up for the same position,” said Britt. “But if they decide to go that extra mile with their wardrobe, it sends a real message to the employer that they are professional and polished.
“Most of the hiring decisions are made as a result of non-verbal cues…the way candidates look, a firm handshake, and eye contact.”
‘Extreme Makeover: Dress for Success Edition’
During “Extreme Makeover: Dress for Success Edition,” 30 students went with staffers from the Career Management Center and Student Life to Macy’s in Cherry Hill. There, male and female students received tutorials on building the perfect interview suit from professionals at Macy’s By Appointment, a free personal shopping service.
Evans, a law and justice major with a knack for style, thought he had nailed his gray suit with lavender shirt and tie. So did Jones.
“If someone came in to interview with me in this suit, I would be absolutely impressed,” said Jones, Rowan’s vice president for student life.
But the suit actually was too stylish for a first interview, Karen Cooper, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of Macy’s By Appointment, said as she walked students through the do’s and don’ts of an interview suit.
“This is a beautiful suit—a fabulous suit—but not for the first interview,” Cooper said of the ensemble Evans put together in just 20 minutes as part of a competition among the students to assemble the best interview suits. The best male and female ensembles each won $250 gift cards.
First-time interviewees, Cooper said, should choose dark colors—black, gray or navy—with light shirts and coordinated ties. Well-maintained shoes also are a must, as is good tailoring, she said.
“Once you get your foot on the door, then it’s time to shine,” Cooper said.
The advice resonated with Edgar Irizarry, a junior accounting major with an affinity for bright colors, especially burgundy and orange.
“I thought I had it all going for myself until I got here,” laughed Irizarry, who chose a colorful shirt and tie as he put his ensemble together. “But here I learned how to dress more like a professional.”
“Extreme Makeover: Dress for Success Edition” was co-sponsored by the Office of Student Enrichment and Family Connections, Residential Learning & University Housing, Greek Life, and Orientation & Student Leadership Programs.
Suit Our Students Closet
To gear up for “Extreme Makeover: Dress for Success Edition,” the Career Management Center also celebrated International Suit Up Day in Savitz Hall. Students received fashion and make-up advice from industry professionals.
Additionally, Rowan administrators and professional staff members held a tie-tying clinic for students. College of Engineering Interim Dean Steve Chin, Coordinator for Greek Affairs Kelvin Rodriguez, and a host of others demonstrated to students the fine art of the four-in-hand knot, the Windsor knot, and the half-Windsor knot.
Also on International Suit Day, the Career Management Center opened its Suit Our Students Closet. The center is accepting men’s and women’s suits from members of the University community for the closet. Students who don’t own proper business attire can rent a suitable suit for $3 as they prepare to nail down their first job. Students are responsible for their own shirts, ties and shoes.
University President Ali Houshmand personally donated five of his suits to assist students.