Career Services launched the new Quaker Career Wardrobe initiative this year, which collects new or gently used professional clothing for students who otherwise could not afford them.
The drive began Jan. 30, continues until Feb. 15 and will culminate in a “shopping day” on Feb. 20, when Penn students will have the opportunity to take home one free professional outfit of their choosing.
“We know that most jobs and internships that our students are applying for involve an interview that requires a suit or some sort of business attire, but that can be really costly,” said Nadine Goldberg, a graduate assistant advisor in Career Services and the primary staff member coordinating the initiative.
“It was really important to us that the cost of those kinds of resources wasn’t the thing that was holding any students back from taking advantage of the opportunities that come through our office,” she added.
“Shopping day” itself will take place in the On-Campus Recruitment Suite, where the common space will be used to display the clothing and the interview rooms will be used as fitting rooms. Career counselors will also be stationed in the suite to answer any questions.
“We thought it would be valuable for any students who haven’t been there before to have their first experience there and get familiar with the space,” Goldberg said. “So that it’s not quite as intimidating if they want to come back later down the line for interviews.”
Career Services is working closely with other offices around campus to help promote this initiative, as well as with the Undergraduate Assembly. UA College Representative and College junior Gabrielle Jackson reached out to Career Services after she noticed how frequently she lent out her own professional clothes to friends. Jackson realized this was likely not an isolated problem. She has been working with Goldberg and the rest of the UA to help publicize this drive.
“Because Penn is such a pre-professional place, having clothing is one of the main resources you need to be successful,” Jackson said. “I just felt that it’s very much overlooked that some people may not have the resources to be able to afford fancy professional clothing.”
The drive functions as a pilot program, with the goal of gauging the demand for minimal or no-cost professional attire on campus. Career Services also considered a rental format, where students would be able to rent suits for free or at a low cost at any point in the year. However they decided to hold off before investing in such a “resource-intensive” program.
“We’ll see what the level of interest is from students and whether this format is effective after this pilot and then decide how to proceed moving forward,” Goldberg said. “But I think the hope is definitely to continue this effort in some form in future semesters.”
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