If you’re a size 10 petite, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo has you covered.
She was among the first donors to SUNY Broome’s Career Closet, which provides free professional clothing, shoes and accessories to students for career fairs, job interviews and internships. In fact, she brought another bag full of donations to the Career Closet’s official grand opening on Feb. 21.
“As a community college, it’s part of our mission to meet people at their need,” said SUNY Broome President Kevin E. Drumm, whose first professional outfit during his college years involved a tweed sports coat. “The Career Closet fills a critical need for our students by helping them to bridge the gap between higher education and their future careers.”
A part of the college’s Applied Learning and Career Center (ALCC), the Career Closet is located just down the hall from the ALCC in the Applied Technologies Building, and features racks of professional clothes, accessories, shoes and even cosmetics. To be eligible, SUNY Broome students must meet with an assigned Career Coach at least twice, develop a final resume with that Career Coach and have a job or internship opportunity, or plan to attend an upcoming career fair. Students keep the outfit.
“The professional outfit they receive is, in essence, part of a plan to help them achieve their first career milestone – landing a job they love,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Francis Battisti. “More milestones will follow, but they will build upon that first one, which is why it’s so important that they get the best start they can right here at SUNY Broome.”
The ALCC has been helping students polish their resumes and practice for interviews ever since they opened in the Fall of 2016. Early on, however, ALCC staff noticed that many students faced a significant challenge in acquiring the right clothes for those interviews because they were tough to afford on a tight budget, noted SUNY Broome Vice President of Student Development and Chief Diversity Carol Ross-Scott, who secured needed funding for the project.
They first referred students to community organizations where they could acquire low-cost professional clothing. But in the long run, offering the service on the SUNY Broome campus made sense as a way to support students.
“We know that people are visual and first impressions in a job interview mean everything,” Dr. Ross-Scott said. And it’s not just about having the shoes and pantsuits, she emphasized. “A professional wardrobe makes you feel more like a professional and act more like a professional,” she said.
The project is made possible by myriad campus stakeholders and community members, including Visions Federal Credit Union, the Rotary Club of Binghamton and the Community Foundation of South Central New York, as well as Assemblywoman Lupardo.
“One thing about this community is we really come together. We’re rooting for one another,” Lupardo said. “We really want each other to succeed.”
Visual Communication Arts major Lindsay Griffith is preparing for her transfer to SUNY Oneonta rather than immediate entry into the work world, but she appreciates the opportunity.
“It’s excellent for college students because we’re all living in the moment and not looking ahead to what we will need to wear to job interviews,” said Griffith, who plans to become an art teacher. “We need to know what we should wear to get that job.”
The Career Closet will conduct ongoing clothing drives to replenish inventory. Currently, they are in need of men and women’s shoes. Visit http://www2.sunybroome.edu/careercenter/career-closet/ for more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange donation drop-offs.