Career Closet opens officially

Behavioral sciences instructor Sarah Creason sorts a box of donated clothing items in the Career Closet Dec. 4. Creason is one of the many involved in bringing the Career Closet project idea to life.

Northwest recently held an official opening for a space offering students fresh and free attire.

Career Closet is a set of two rooms located in North Complex providing students with professional dress clothing, primarily for job interviews and other school functions like Career Fair.

Initially planned as a ribbon-cutting ceremony, an open house was eventually decided on for the Career Closet.

The event saw top Northwest officials like Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Juanita Simmons, Provost Jamie Hooyman and President John Jasinski in attendance.

Career Services Director of Partnerships and Placement Jill Brown, a key figure in getting the room up and running, was amazed by the rapid development the Career Closet has had.

“We’ve only been having these discussions for what, like 40 days? And it already looks this awesome with this many donations,” Brown said. “We immediately had to add a second room because of all the clothes.”

Brown and Career Services got involved with Career Closet after Brown mentioned in a presentation the idea of a clothing room for students, a project that had already been started by behavioral sciences instructor Sarah Creason and Horace Mann teacher Meghan Sheil.

“Someone immediately connected me with Meghan and Sarah,” Brown said. “It’s one of those things where many hands make light work. It runs now because so many of us are involved.”

One person in attendance at the Career Closet open house was senior Makinlin Webster, who found out about Career Closet from Sheil while working at the Phyllis and Richard Leet Center.

“She was very excited about it, and I was excited to check out what she’s done,” Webster said.

The trip to Career Closet was a particularly important one for Webster, as both she and her boyfriend are starting new jobs in the next month.

“It’s a really great opportunity,” Webster said. “It’s nice that we have this option on campus so that way we don’t have to go out and spend a whole bunch of money as seniors in college, people that are still kind of struggling.”

Webster said she’s happy to see the Career Closet come to fruition and have it earn the success that it has.

“There’s a lot of really nice men’s dress clothes,” Webster said. “I got some ties, so it was nice.”

Jasinski called the Career Closet a “tremendous” opportunity for Northwest students, noting the potential for growth was just as exciting.

Brown agreed, saying with many students needing clothes who don’t know about the room, Career Closet should see continued growth in attendance and size.

“Every time a student shops, it’s always wonderful,” Brown said. “There were two gentlemen in there and they asked how much it was and when I said it was free, the look on their faces was priceless.”

Brown said that while she envisioned the Career Closet remaining a fixture on campus, a likely increase in visitors will mean a need for more space, giving students more options and increasing the number of clothing items.

“I don’t know if this is the right space. We may need another room so that way we could have pants in one room, for instance, or we get a lot of shoes and figure how to display those,” Brown said.

She said that with the number of shoppers not fully determined yet, other aspects of the room like opening times will remain by appointment only.

“We’re still trying to figure out how often do we open, when do we open, whether or not set hours would be a good idea,” Brown said.

With increased media coverage following Career Closet’s first few openings, Brown said the number of people wanting to donate increased soon after.

“It’s incredibly empowering from the sense that people stop by all of the time that we don’t even know to drop off donations who had just read articles about it,” Brown said. “They immediately wanted to give back to students.”

Appointments for Career Closet can be made at https://www.nwmissouri.edu/career/career-closet.htm.

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