Finding a job in a recessionary economy is a challenge for any college student, and much less for those whose budgets may prevent them from dressing for success, but Vanguard University has designed a solution to help children in need prepare for the interview.
Samson's Career Pop-up Closet, a small boutique built in a defunct coffeeshop building on the west end of the Costa Mesa campus showcases quality second-hand clothing and accessories appropriate for a variety of work-related activities, from interviews to internships and networking events.
The clothing boutique, which made its debut on campus Tuesday during a preview event, is designed to help disadvantaged students increase their social capital and gain a competitive advantage in the job market, said JJ Smith, director of Career Services. .
“We wanted to provide a resource that would remove any barriers that might get in the way of students standing out and feeling confident, because we really want our students to make a positive impression on employers,” Smith said. "[Professional attire] really makes a difference in the eyes of the interviewer."
To that end, Samson's Career Pop-up Closet (named for the school's leonine mascot) offers students and students who enroll through the Professional Services Department the opportunity to select a full outfit per semester: a jacket, trousers, shirt, tie and shoes for men or a dress, suit, blouse and trousers for women plus an accessory and a pair of shoes.
Even during the pandemic, when most classes are taught online, the boutique will be available by appointment on Wednesdays from 2-4pm. and Thursdays, 10 am to 2 pm
The effort is a collaboration between Vanguard's Department of Professional Services and its Living Well Community Resource Center, which oversees an on-campus food pantry for students.
Amanda Lebrecht, associate dean for student success at the university, said that most Vanguard students qualify for financial aid. A survey that circulated before the pandemic indicated that only 50% of the student body could regularly meet basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing.
“Half of our students feel like they don't have their basic needs met – and this was before the pandemic,” Lebrecht said. "So we have a great need for this."
To help communicate that need, Samson's has "hired" its own advertising intern until April. Camille Jacome, Senior Senior Marketing Officer, helped set up the store on campus and will soon transition to promoting it on social media.
"Personally, I wish I had this resource when I started four years ago," said the -Elder, recounting his own experience taking the shuttle to the nearest mall to spend a small fortune on work clothes. "This is much more profitable and honestly there are some beautiful pieces there."
Volunteers are sorting high-quality, carefully used donations collected from faculty and staff, but hope to partner with retailers, dry cleaners, and dry cleaners to increase inventory and secure discounted rates for eligible students.
Vanguard University President Michael Beals said that because many of those who attend courses are first-generation college students, the staff and faculty want to do everything possible to put them on strong career paths.
"As we collect professional clothing donations, including my own donations, and build partnerships with local organizations, I know that this initiative will provide much-needed support for our students as they begin their internships and enter the labor market, "he said. email. "Samson's Pop-Up Career Closet also provides a way for our administrators, faculty, staff, and students to give back what they can, a true testament to our mission."
Sophomore Mason Fernandez, who on Tuesday selected a suit and tie from the coat racks, admits he has a lot to learn about dressing to impress.
Fernández's high school prom was the first and last time he was asked to dress, so he borrowed a suit from his grandfather and his twin brother Lance tied his tie.
"Actually, I don't have my own set of clothes to wear to professional events, so I think this is really useful," said an old biochemistry student.
“I know that many students may be struggling or worried about not having professional attire for interviews, so that would be especially on their minds,” continues Fernández. "I definitely have that in mind."
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