Stony Brook’s Career Closet Inspires Workplace Confidence 

Let’s be real. The uniform of a college student is jeans and a team sweatshirt. It’s comfortable, it’s casual and it’s perfect for walking around campus in any sort of weather. However, it’s not the best way to show up to a job interview.

After not having to worry about being professionally dressed until now, it may be a bit daunting for students to have to figure out what type of clothing may be best suited for work. And after that’s figured out, how do you possibly go about getting your hands on some of these items?

Welcome to Stony Brook University’s new Career Closet (which falls within the Career Center) where these things get figured out and students leave with a newfound sense of confidence.

The Career Closet, hosted by the Center for Service Learning and Community Service, allows students to acquire free professional clothing and accessories that they may otherwise not be able to access. Students can shop the closet to select one professional outfit to keep per semester.

The Career Closet came to fruition through a partnership with Zebra Technologies, a Stony Brook Employer Partner. Jada Lindo, a Stony Brook alumnus as well as an employee of Zebra Technologies, worked with the university on this idea after wanting to find a way to provide students with the first step in their professional development — career clothes.

Not only can these be a pricey investment for students living on a fixed income, but it can also be hard to get off campus to shop as well as find the right style and sizes. And if you’ve never had to dress yourself professionally, it may be daunting to even find a place to start.

Lindo worked with the Career Center to take the fear out of the experience and create a whole new vibe.

“She wanted to improve access to professional clothing in order for Stony Brook students to feel prepared for experiences such as interviews and job fairs,” said Alissa Moeller, program outreach coordinator at the Career Center.

After a day of service to help get the plans for the closet in place, racks pieced together and hangers on racks, they were met with five large boxes of clothing to get them started, courtesy of Lindo and the team at Zebra Technologies.

Stony Brook students have turned out in droves to tap this new resource. To date, the Career closet has seen more than 165 students visit.

The Career Closet is sorted by size and gender for easy accessibility and there are also accessories, such as bags, ties, belts and shoes. Service and Community Outreach interns at the Career Closet also collect feedback at the end of every visit, to better understand what items are most needed when creating ads for donation requests.

“We have a range of styles and sizes, so chances are, we will have something that works for you,” said Moeller. “And if we don’t, we appreciate that feedback and will continue working to improve the contents of the Career Closet.”

It doesn’t stop there. Moeller said there is a guide in the works to help students figure out what to wear and what not to wear, so the educational component to dressing for success can be taken with students the next time they have to pick out their own work outfit.

“At the end of the day, we want students to feel like they can best represent themselves confidently, whether that be in an interview or any kind of professional atmosphere that they’re in, to maximize their potential,” said Moeller.

The Career Closet is currently located in the Student Activities Center (SAC) Room 228. Fall 2023 semester hours for students are Mondays from 11 am to 2 pm and Thursdays from noon to 4 pm. Students are encouraged to continue to check updated hours as the semesters change.

Looking to donate? The Career Closet welcomes donations of clean, interview-appropriate, and business-ready attire from students, faculty, staff, and the local community. View the complete list of needed clothing.

— Emily Cappiello

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