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Dress for Success

Gabby Spann ’19 browsed through racks of clothing, searching for something to wear on interviews. She walked away with a funky plaid pantsuit and black Christian Dior coat.

Career Closet

Price tag? Zero. That’s because she wasn’t at the mall, or a high-end boutique. Instead, she was at Hofstra University’s Career Closet, a professional clothing drive to support students who need attire for interviews, internships, career fairs, and the workplace. Hofstra is the first university on Long Island and one of the few in New York State to host a professional clothing drive for students.  

“It’s great for students to know that Hofstra’s supporting them in their professional lives,” said Spann, a community health major who was looking for outfits for upcoming job interviews. “This service gives me the confidence I need to go out there and achieve my goals.”

“Our mission is to provide equal opportunities for all students,” said Sabeen Sheikh, assistant director of Outreach and Special Programs at the Hofstra Career Center, which hosted the event. “We stress the importance of internships and jobs, so we want to be able to accommodate students and help them to be ready.”

The Career Center put out a call for donations from faculty, staff and alumni for items such as blazers, ties, handbags, and more. The response was overwhelming. With thousands of donations, including over 20 boxes from Max Mara and Men’s Wearhouse, the Career Center had more than enough items for the drive and were able to donate an additional 12 bags of clothing to the Salvation Army.

Eager shoppers filled the room, matching tops to bottoms, trying on shoes, and searching for the perfect accessory.  Dozens more stood in a line wrapped around the Pride Den, waiting for their turn at the racks.

Students from pre-professional law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta volunteered as stylists during the event, helping student shoppers put together outfits and keeping the racks organized. In addition to providing support at the event, the fraternity donated over 100 articles of clothing.

Career Closet

“It is so important to look good during an interview,” said history major Sasha Pezenik ’21, pre-professional chair of Phi Alpha Delta. “You never get a second chance at a first impression.”

All the volunteers were also trained to use gender-inclusive language when talking about the clothing. “I think everybody should have this training,” said Pezenik. “It was extremely useful, and it makes sense: The Career Closet is gender-inclusive so we should be able to speak knowledgeably about that.”

The Career Closet, part of the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement’s “How to Adult” series, was open to students of all years and majors.

“This is amazing,” said Video/TV major Carter Gil de Rubio ’21. “Finding stuff like this out in stores is really expensive. Having something where you can come in and grab five free things and make basically an entire outfit for yourself – that’s really incredible.”

In all, the Career Closet drew more than 300 students who picked up over 1,500 pieces of clothing, and the Center for Career Design and Development is now considering ways to make the Career Closet a regular event.

“It’s been a fabulous day,” said Michelle Kyriakides, executive director at the Center for Career Design and Development. “It’s great to see a university-wide effort like this come together.”