St. John’s Career Closet Boosts Students’ Access to Business Wardrobes

Career Closet stand next to a balloon arch
February 24, 2022

Job-seeking students at St. John’s University will be dressed for success, thanks to the Career Closet, an initiative that offers gently used business attire to students as they prepare to enter the workforce.

More than 200 students turned out for the event on February 10 that was hosted by University Career Services and business fraternity  Gamma Iota Sigma to give financially challenged attendees an opportunity to select two business outfits  to wear for interviews and other professional activities. 

“Many of our students are working their way through college,” said principal event organizer Joni O’Hagan, Director, Career Development, University Career Services, Division of Student Affairs. “The Career Closet is aimed at helping to build students’ confidence during interviews and in other professional settings by providing them with business-appropriate clothing free of charge.”

A retail store atmosphere was created inside Chiang Ching-Kuo Hall on the Queens, NY, campus with the use of coat racks and display tables. The clothing was divided into sections, such as men’s and women’s suits, dresses, pants, shirts, and blouses. One student, who was preparing for an interview for an entry-level position, said of the event, “I thought it was fantastic! They had great clothes for men and women. Many of my friends stopped by, and they were all raving about the clothes that they got that day.”

Suits on a rack

Most of the hundreds of clothing items collected for the Career Closet were donated by approximately 30 people whom Ms. O’Hagan contacted through outreach efforts on social media platforms. Student volunteers also gathered donations of garments from the St. John’s campus in Manhattan, NY.

The first Career Closet several years ago was conceived by Gamma Iota Sigma, which will remain a partner in these events, and more will be held in the future, said Ms. O’Hagan. “This time, we partnered more intentionally with the fraternity so that the quantity, variety, and condition of donated items gives students a greater selection.”

During the final hour of the event, students were permitted to take as much clothing as they needed, said Ms. O’Hagan, and some students returned to select additional items. “I was so pleasantly surprised to find out the Career Closet was going on,” said another student shopper.   “This was a great idea.”