Dress to Impress event helps students prepare for job interviews
In preparation for entering the job market after graduation, Millikin University students have a lot to consider. From practicing their interview skills to perfecting their resumes, the process can be intimidating. When it comes to professional interviews, however, often the most important part of a candidate's first impression is the area they are least prepared: clothing.
On Wednesday, Feb. 16, Millikin University's Tabor School of Business, with support from Waite's Dry Cleaners, Brass Horn, Marina's Bridal and the Center for Academic & Professional Performance (CAPP), held a Dress to Impress event. The event was intended to provide Millikin students with free items of professional dress clothing and the guidance in how to put them together with an outfit.
Zack Stroud of The Brass Horn, said that he was there to help young students with the fundamentals of dress wear. "I'm here to help students get the right fit, how to color coordinate, how a pant and dress shirt should look and tie a tie. All of the basics," he said.
Millikin students who attended the event were able to try on and take home clothes and accessories, as well as learn professional dress advice that will help them give a great first impression. Trayvon Wilson, a sophomore from Bloomington, Ill., is majoring in business management, and while he has time before interviews become a big part of his life, he wants to be prepared when an opportunity comes his way.
"I'm planning for the future and I want to be ready for internships and other opportunities," Wilson said. He also mentioned that he didn't have many dress clothes, so this event helped him expand his wardrobe while also easing his worries about proper fit.
"I actually like dressing up," Wilson said. "When I dress up, I feel better about how I'm presenting myself."
Like Trayvon, Millikin junior Kylie Venable also enjoys dressing up for interviews and presentations. "It makes me feel like I'm in the field," she expressed. As a marketing major, Venable attended the Dress to Impress event because she is highly attentive to how she presents herself professionally. Though she has a lot of practice with her internship at Main Place Real Estate in Decatur, Ill., she mentioned that dressing up every day can be a challenge with a limited dress clothing wardrobe. "I am going to need a lot of business clothes once I graduate from Millikin," Venable said.
Several Millikin students were particularly eager to learn how to properly tie a tie. RJ Podeschi, dean of the Tabor School of Business, was happy to assist, though being left-handed made the lesson a bit more challenging. "A lot of students may not have the resources to buy dress clothes," Podeschi said, discussing the purpose of Dress to Impress. "To have this type of resource, to look their finest for an interview, it means a ton to be able to get a step up in the career world."
Kalli Collins, Millikin Class of 2020, and academic intervention specialist with Millikin's Center for Academic & Professional Performance, was instrumental in organizing and putting on this event, and she is passionate about the cause. "We want to remove barriers so our students can become career ready," Collins said. The CAPP already offers several resources to help prepare students for professional success, but clothing was one area where students still struggled. "Professional dress clothing can be expensive and it is not in a college student's budget," Collins noted.
Collins was thrilled with the event's turnout, which had more than 90 students in attendance and more than 125 items of clothing given away. For the event, more than 200 pieces of clothing were donated by The Brass Horn, community members and Millikin staff and faculty. Collins mentioned that all donations were dry cleaned through a partnership with Waite's Dry Cleaning.
While Dress to Impress was a one-day event, a year-round resource called the Career Closet is in the works. "Anytime that a student has a professional interview, they can come to the Career Closet to get clothing instead of going out to the mall and paying a lot of money," Collins said.
Millikin's Career Closet is accepting donations of business clothing from around the Decatur community and hopes to be able to give students one less thing to worry about before their first big interview.