A new pair of shoes: Raiding the K-State Career Closet

Career Closet program at Kansas State University provides professional attire for students free of charge. (Saya Kakim|Collegian Media Group)

With the All-University Career Fair coming up Sept. 19 – 21, students may be pleased to know that the Career Center at the Berney Family Welcome Center can help them dress for interviews, thanks to the Career Closet.

“The Career Closet basically is a program for students,” Anne DeLuca, assistant director of the Career Center, said. “There’s no strings attached to it. Essentially, you can come in, pick out an outfit — you can even try it on in our dressing room — and then you take it home. You don’t have to pay for it. You don’t have to bring it back.”

Students, alumni, Manhattan residents and even contributors outside of Manhattan support the Career Closet with donations of gently used business attire.

“We get all sorts of business clothing … suits, ties, skirts, pantyhose, jewelry,” DeLuca said. “That’s really what we’re run off of — donations from the community. We’re also sponsored by Koch Industries as well. The combination of those two things are what allow us to have such a great program for students.”

Ellee Schmitt, sophomore in apparel and textiles and Career Center intern, said she enjoys working with the students who use the Career Closet.

“The biggest thing with working with students directly that I’ve gotten to enjoy is helping them style and choose outfits that are appropriate,” Schmitt said. “A lot of students aren’t aware of what would be the most professional [attire] for certain events, like going to a career fair versus going to an interview. I get to be hands-on and help them with my knowledge of styling and help them choose something that makes them feel confident and makes them feel good about whatever they’re planning for.”

Students like Lati Horton, junior in sociology, appreciate what the Career Closet has in its selection.

“I actually thought that some of them were really nice,” Horton said. “You don’t expect much because they’re donated. I didn’t expect that I would find things that I would really, really like, but I found a suit, a nice skirt and a nice shirt.”

The Career Closet is a program that can help students with a variety of needs.

“It’s really great [for] getting ready for the Career Fair, if you have a job interview coming up or even if you don’t really know what to wear for your first day of work,” DeLuca said.

Students can visit the Career Closet as needed and pick out a few items of their choice.

“Typically, we say three items per visit, and we count a suit as one item,” DeLuca said. “So, if somebody finds a jacket and a skirt that goes together, typically if it’s a set, that will be one item.”

Schmitt encourages students to take advantage of the Career Closet.

“Always utilize your resources,” Schmitt said. “This is free clothing that [students] can come and get. When you think about the cost of buying a suit for an interview or buying a nice dress and a blazer, you’re spending hundreds of dollars a lot of times on those pieces. … Students should be aware of it and feel comfortable coming in and taking those donations.”

The Career Center has plenty more to offer besides the Career Closet.

“Come and check it out,” DeLuca said. “It’s a good way for you to come and visit the Career Center. If you’ve never been, this is a good first step.”

The Career Closet, along with the rest of the Career Center, is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I’m Stephanie Wallace, and I am the assistant news editor of the Collegian, a contributing writer, and a copy editor. I’m a senior, majoring in English major and minoring in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. You may have seen me riding my scooter around campus as I rush to my classes and much too many clubs. Some organizations I work with include the English Department Ambassadors, K-State Libraries Student Ambassadors and The Burrow — K-State’s chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance.