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  • Will Career Clothes Closets Be Available in the Fall?

    June 22, 2020 | By NACE Staff

    Best Practices
    An African American student shops at her university's career closet.

    TAGS: best practices, branding and marketing

    One of the issues career center staff will face this fall is how to handle their career closet program. The program, which offers students professional attire, is often dependent on donations of gently used clothing for the students who need interview clothing. How can the career services staff ensure that donations are safe—and students who need professional attire can try on and choose items?

    NACE Community members had some ideas to share. Here’s what they said:

    Video Fashion Shows and Personal Shoppers

    Our career closet is in a very tight space, so we're planning to avoid any students "shopping" in the room. Instead, we have two options that we hope to implement:

    1. Host weekly live video sessions (likely Facebook Live) to show some of our inventory—each week will have a theme (e.g., business casual) that includes an educational component (e.g., how to tie a tie), then we'll show around 20-25 individual items. We'll label the items shown in the video by number and students will be able to "claim" what item number they are interested in by commenting on the live stream or contacting our office directly. We'll then have a scheduled time for them to come pick up what they requested.
    2. Involve our career ambassadors as personal shopping assistants—any students needing professional clothing can contact our office to inquire about specific items they're looking for, then our career ambassadors will shop for them and send photos/video of what is in our inventory. We'll schedule a time for students pick up items this way as well.

    We are still in the early stages of planning and have not decided yet how we will address accepting donations or allowing students to try on items. We're considering some sort of "quarantine" to keep items held for a few days before moving into the room as well as establishing some disinfecting guidelines, but we have not made anything official. — Kayla Woessner, career coach, University of Arkansas - Fayetteville - Sam M. Walton College of Business

    A Three-Day Quarantine

    While we have just started the process of determining how the closet will be run, our office has made some decisions. We are taking the strategy of following similar policies to other retailers as well as our campus bookstore so that there is cohesion. The career closet will be open for the fall semester. However, for right now, students will not be allowed to try clothes on. Other larger retailers in the area have implemented a three-day rule, where if clothing is returned or tried on, it is “quarantined” for three days before being put back on the racks but we are not sure that we have the inventory to do that.

    We will also have hand sanitizer and encourage PPE as is being done elsewhere on campus. We will also sanitize and disinfect after each time a student uses the career closet. I am working through a process for the donations piece as this something we do throughout the year. So far, my thoughts are that these donations would be taken by appointment only and will plan to work with them on an individual basis. Those items would also set aside for a period of three days before we do anything with them. As with anything else, we will plan to be flexible and make changes as needed. — Cassandra Gilbert, career coach, NDSU Career and Advising Center, North Dakota State University

    By Appointment Only

    We have talked about appointments only ("walk-in appointments" only available in our online career lab).  If a student wanted to look at the professional attire, we could schedule appointments and then use proper sanitation before/after the appointment. — Dana Hebreard, director of career services, Aquinas College

    One Nice Shirt Will Work

    I think as recruiters, we need to show grace during this time and understand more. I am not sure what in- person recruiting will look like this fall. If it is mainly video interviews, dress from the waist up will be most important. Conversations with recruiters about this and with students about how one nice shirt will work [are a good idea]. — Helen Brown, academic outreach manager, Vector Marketing Corp.

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