Suited up: President’s 100-day challenge seeks suits, dresses to help fill Career Closet for students

Suited up: President’s 100-day challenge seeks suits, dresses to help fill Career Closet for students

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As the season for interviewing for jobs and internships heats up, Rowan President Ali A. Houshmand is launching a 100-day challenge to fill the University’s Suit Our Students Career Closet with professional attire.

From Dec. 1-March 10, Houshmand’s 100-day challenge is looking to stock the clothing closet in the Office of Career Advancement in Savitz Hall in Glassboro with 300 suits and dresses for Rowan students to wear as they head out on job interviews.

The Career Closet on the second floor of Savitz Hall has been in existence for about 18 months. Students gearing up for interviews regularly visit the closet to obtain freshly dry-cleaned donated suits, dresses or accessories to complete their professional ensembles. The closet includes suits, dresses, blouses, shirts, blazers and shoes in all sizes, as well as belts and ties.

Through the initiative, Houshmand is challenging upwards of 200 members of the University and external communities to donate their gently-worn clothing to assist cash-strapped students preparing for job interviews.

Donations can be dropped off at the following locations on Rowan’s campuses: the Office of the Dean of Students, Savitz Hall; the dean’s office at Rowan SOM in Stratford; the dean’s office at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden; and the main office of the academic building at Rowan’s Camden campus.

Donated items should be dry cleaned with sizes clearly identified.

According to Bob Bullard, director of the Office of Career Advancement, the suit challenge comes at the perfect time. The Spring 2019 Career & Graduate School Fair, the largest annual career fair at Rowan, will be Thursday, Feb. 21, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Rec Center.

By then, the Career Closet will be packed to the gills with professional attire in all sizes, Bullard notes.

The Office of Career Advancement works to help students develop educational and career goals. The office provides one-on-one career counseling, workshops, recruitment programs, career fairs, and job posting databases to assist students as they progress in their studies and head off to internships and careers.

To that end, students absolutely recognize the need to dress professionally for interviews, but many just can’t afford the $200 or more it takes to put together appropriate and stylish interview attire, according to Bullard. His office has purchased six new clothing racks to accommodate additional donations through Houshmand’s challenge.

“We want to make sure students have every opportunity to be dressed properly as they begin their job search,” says Bullard. “Finding a suit that fits helps students feel comfortable and confident goes a long way. It can help propel them into a career.”

When students visit the Career Closet, Career Advancement staffers measure them and help them put outfits together. Often, more than one counselor weighs in on what works best. If needed, students even will receive tie-tying tutorials, according to Bullard. 

“It’s a lot of fun for our staff,” says Bullard. “We provide a caring, loving, safe space to help students figure out what’s best for them and to show them what’s appropriate for their field of work.”

While there are plenty of suits—“really nice suits,” Bullard says—some students visit the Career Closet in search of a tie or shirt or belt to complete what they already have, he notes.

“A lot of students come in for separates…blazers, ties, blouses,” says Bullard. “Sometimes the biggest hurdle is just finding clothing that fits.”

Area residents wishing to donate to the 100-day challenge can arrange for items to be picked up by calling 856-256-4040 or emailing studentaffairs@rowan.edu.

Donations are tax deductible. Upon request, University Advancement will provide documentation of donations.