Redesigned Career Closet returns to help students dress for success

Learn more about the Career Closet

The way students are interviewing for their first jobs out of college might have changed — more Zoom calls, fewer in-person meetings — but one thing hasn’t.

They still need to look professional in those interviews (even if pants are now optional). 

Campbell University’s Office of Career Services has partnered with Kappa Epsilon, a national fraternity that promotes women in pharmacy, and Penmarc Inspired Spaces to present its third-annual Career Closet. Based on campus in the Student Services building, the Career Closet provides students the opportunity to build their professional wardrobe for free through in-kind donations from the Campbell community and its affiliates.

According to Dr. Michelle Perez, associate vice president for student success, a clothing drive is under way to restock the closet, and students are welcome to come by during business hours throughout the fall semester to see what’s in stock. Once the closet is fully stocked, Career Closet will host a ‘Shopping Day’ event, according to Perez. 

The COVID-19 pandemic presented new opportunities for this year’s event. Career Services relocated its testing center to a larger space to allow for distancing, and that old testing space has now become the Career Closet, offering a bigger (and safer) shopping experience. Perez said the pandemic also has her group rethinking what exactly that Shopping Day will look like, but she said they are in the process of developing a website that could allow for browsing of the garments remotely. The site is still a “work in progress,” she said, but they are hopeful it will launch during this academic year. 

This year’s Career Closet was made possible by an in-kind donation from Penmarc Inspired Spaces, part of the Rosewood Family of Companies, which provided consultation, design services, hardware and installation for the professional closet system to the University. The closet system was provided to Penmarc at a significant discount through their long standing partnership with specialty retailer The Container Store. Matthew Epps, MBA ’09 and Group President of Penmarc Inspired Spaces, coordinated the gift.

According to Nathan Rice, director of development for the Office of Advancement, the company has stepped up several times in the past to meet specific and measurable needs at Campbell.

“Their generous support, especially focused in the areas of student persistence and career outcomes, is making a difference daily in the lives of our students,” Rice said. “We are grateful for their support.”

Career Closet is entering its third year of operation, having helped several students dress for success heading into important interviews or for jobs they’d already landed. The pandemic has certainly had an effect on not only the economy (and the number of job interviews to be had), but also the way interviews are conducted. Not only are many job interviews performed remotely, but career fairs have gone online as well. 

What hasn’t changed, however, is the importance of a good first impression.

“We have found that we do have to prepare students for the virtual individual interview differently, because it’s not just how they present themselves, but also how they navigate the technology,” Perez said. “Now employers see a real glimpse into your world, what does what they see tell them about who you are?”