It’s not as simple as just wearing a suit anymore. When entering the world of internships and job interviews, today’s students need to navigate through basic casual, business casual, executive casual, corporate and boardroom attire. What’s a job seeker on a budget to do?
If students are lucky enough to attend the University of Findlay, they can visit the Career Closet and emerge “dressed for success” at little or no cost. Cindy Strathman, administrative assistant for the Office of Internships and Placement, is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Career Closet. The program received start up dollars for the 2014-15 academic year from the UF Parent Fund and is now partially funded through an Ohio Means Internships and Co-ops (OMIC) grant.
“College students seem to bring clothing for their day-to-day lives on campus,” said Strathman. “They really don’t think about needing something for a job interview or career fair.”
Students needing appropriate attire can contact Strathman and borrow from the Closet’s stock of men’s and women’s suits, jackets, shirts, skirts, slacks, belts and ties. They may also borrow an attractive leather padfolio to complete the professional look. Although she admits that some occupations take a more informal approach to interviews, Strathman feels that it’s always advisable to dress more conservatively … just to be safe. She’s supported in that theory by Kate Wendleton, president and founder of the Five O’Clock Club, a national career counseling and out placement firm.
“The rule is that you dress one or two levels higher than the job that you’re going for,” explained Wendleton in an interview with Monster.com. She continued that by dressing a notch or two above what’s standard apparel for the position you’re interviewing for, “you’re definitely showing that you care about this job and that you know the game.”
In order to expand selection and increase inventory, Strathman is in the throes of a donation drive for gently used career clothing through June 30. Needed are dark-colored, conservative jackets, pants, shirts, belts, ties, dresses, skirts and shoes. Donors are asked to bring items to the Office of Internships and Career Placement, Room 113 in Old Main.
Linda Pohlgeers, director, Career & Experiential Education Center, Mount St. Joseph University, Cincinnati, Ohio, said that the university’s Career Wear program has expanded from one to two rooms in the year since it opened. “Students will come to our office and one of our staff escorts them to a room to help them find what they need,” added Pohlgeers.
Working with its initial funding, UF’s Career Closet has put together a solid selection of interviewing “basics.” Current offerings can be borrowed for professional events and will be dry cleaned when returned. Borrowing a suit is free for UF students, except for a small dry cleaning fee. Donated clothing is free to students, and may be kept to wear as needed.
Strathman hopes to expand the Career Closet both in terms of space and selection. She envisions the current location in the basement of Shafer Library eventually moving to a larger space. For now, she’s gearing up for fall 2016 and an increased demand for help in putting one’s best foot forward!
Cindy Strathman encourages students who are preparing for a job interview to “know the employer” and dress accordingly. The website interviewguys.com has even come up with some categories of dress along with the corresponding industries:
Conservative: Corporations, financial institutions, accounting firms, law offices
Business Casual: Sales, government agencies, education, retail, small companies, information tech., engineering, real estate
Casual: Construction, repair, landscaping, plumbing and any other job where you may get dirty (obviously).
Creative/Fashionable: Fashion, entertainment, graphic design, video game design, music industry