Service collects gently used professional attire, redistributes to students in need after they meet certain number of requirements
A new service on campus has been collecting donations of professional attire to redistribute to students who need them to land jobs or internships.
The service, called Comet Closet, was set up in 2015 and will be free of charge once it opens. Users also don’t have to return the clothing they are given. Student volunteers and interns will be operating the service, with four volunteers currently on staff.
“We have the (Comet Cupboard) so that students who don’t have food have a place to go,” said Associate Dean of the Jindal School of Management Marilyn Kaplan. “And secondly here at JSOM we had recently put in a requirement for internships, and if students did not have the money for food, how could they afford a suit for an interview? Most of us in our faculty and staff have a few items in our closets that we could donate.”
The Comet Closet is related to the Career Management Center.
“We have a requirement,” said JSOM Undergraduate Student Programs Coordinator Dee Goines. “The Comet Closet is for students who need business professional attire for a job interview or the first day of work, but in order to participate, you have to attend three events by the Career Management Center. Those sessions are related to job interviews and skills.”
After attending the sessions, students choose one to write a reflection on and reach out to the Comet Closet to take advantage of their services.
Goines said the service could potentially open up campus-wide, not just to JSOM.
“The reality is that we are all Comets,” Goines said. “The same requirements would apply, but we probably wouldn’t turn down any of our students.”
The Comet Closet has collected over 1,200 pieces of professional clothing, and although the service is growing, there are hurdles in maintaining it.
“The main challenge is having a physical space to store all the donations,” Goines said. “We have reached out to some communities, but we are a little behind on where we had hoped to receive donations from those venues. As long as we have the space to put our items and as long as they are in decent condition, we will put them to use.”
The clothes are currently being stored in a small office in JSOM I.
The closet is always looking to improve with more donations, especially for women’s clothing. In fact, JSOM is going to hold a Spring Clothing Drive Extravaganza on April 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., so students can bring their professional items and donate them.
The Comet Closet will be having a special opening event soon, and Kaplan said she is optimistic that the Closet can be of use to anybody who reaches out for help.
“I think one worry that we all have is students might not feel comfortable coming in and asking for a handout, but there should be something for everybody,” Kaplan said. “We would like to be able to outfit somebody from head to toe.”