The number of campus “career closets,” where students can access free new and gently used professional clothing for job interviews and internships, is increasing. Some operate like a clothing library, with students expected to return the clothes, while others allow students to drop in or make appointments to pick out clothes. And most donations come from parents, alumni, and university faculty and staff members, with donations picking up since the pandemic switched many people to remote work schedules.
“Many folks, they don’t want to just drop their clothing in a bin,” Michelle Kyriakides, executive director of the Career Design and Development Center at Hofstra, told Inside Higher Ed. “They want to know that it’s going to be used. We had community members who saw a story within our local newspaper and have brought in clothes saying, ‘I wore professional attire throughout my career and it’s been sitting in my closet and now I know it’s going to go to someone who will use it.’”
Items such as blazers, smaller sizes, men’s shoes, belts and ties tend to be some of the most popular items in campus closets.
At Hofstra University (NY) and the University of Washington, permanent locations recently opened last month after several years of holding pop-up events each semester where students could choose clothes. Having an on-campus closet also removes transportation barriers for some students so they don’t have to find their way to an off-campus store to get what they need.
Read more about these campus career closets here.