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  • Fresh Ideas for Career Closets

    December 09, 2019 | By NACE Staff

    Best Practices
    A career services professional inventories interview clothes in her office's career closet.

    TAGS: best practices, branding and marketing, nace insights, career development

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    A perennial area of interest among career services practitioners involves the career clothing closet. Who offers them, who handles the work, and what do these closets offer students?

    The topic is being discussed again in the NACE Community with fresh ideas on this enduring question. Here are some ideas for and links to more information about career closets from NACE Community members:

    • Most donations are gently worn items from staff, faculty, the community, and employers. One university has a holiday tree with tags indicating the sizes of clothing needed for donation.
    • Clothing is free or there is a minimal charge for items. At one university, money collected goes to a scholarship fund. At others, it helps refresh needed clothing items.
    • Inventory is tracked through a CRM which notes the size and style needs of students. This gives the career center the ability to run a report for what students are most interested in using and allows staff to solicit donations.
    • The career closet at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is set up like a boutique, where students can browse. Students are allowed two complete outfits per semester.
    • At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business, a student honorary society manages the career closet, which provides up to three articles of clothing to any business student. The university’s LGBTQA+ Center also opened a “Lavender Closet” for identity affirming clothing. Students were notified of the closet through the student newspaper.
    • At one California university, mannequins model professional dress for students to use as an example of what to wear for a mock interview or a career fair.
    • A pop-up career closet at Madison Area Technical College moves among multiple campuses to serve all students and provide job seekers with up to four articles of clothing per semester. Items are arranged on rolling racks with shoes in plastic bins under the clothing. A “dress for success” infographic is available for students who want to check their choices for appropriateness. Clothing is tagged with a color during the donation process, allowing it to be identified and removed from the closet if it isn’t claimed within two years.

    What new ideas are you using to supply and maintain your professional clothing closet for students? Share your ideas and experiences in the NACE Community.