Northwestern Career Advancement launches free professional clothing service

Northwestern Career Advancement in America has launched Cats Closet: a service that provides free professional attire for students to help increase accessibility for interviews.
Both undergraduate and graduate studies can pick up to three items – or a two-piece suit – to wear and keep each academic year. The service offers students access to free professional garments to help ensure that students aren’t deterred from pursuing interviews or career opportunities because of clothes.
183 students have taken advantage of the service so far, which is more than NCA initially anticipated. Geni Harclerode, the office’s director of employer recruitment and engagement, commented, “We’ve been really excited to see the number of students who have taken advantage of it.”
She also explained that she’d heard stories of students who opted out of opportunities because they didn’t feel like they had anything professional enough to wear. One student went as far as to purchase something out of their price range and tuck in the tags at a career event so it could later be returned.
SESP senior Madeline Meyer used Cats Closet to get a business shirt for an interview and praised the service for being a great resource. “When you have companies demand or expect you dress a certain way and you don’t have the economic resources, NCA is here to make sure you have all the tools you need to be successful in your interviews,” she commented

The opening of the Closet has also allowed NCA staff to interact with and advise students in a different setting where they can tailor their advice to specific interviews and situations. Staff can help explain concepts — like what business casual constitutes — that students might not understand.

“It’s been fun to talk to students and cheer them on as they’re preparing for what’s next and also talk to them about professional attire,” Harclerode continued, “because for a lot of students this is the very first time they might be stepping out to do something that would require more professional dress.”

All clothes in the Closet are donated and mostly come from faculty, alumni and other members of the Northwestern community.

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