Career Closet rents brand-name professional clothing, free to students

Daniel+Rios+visits+the+Career+Closet+to+get+fitted+for+a+suit.

Tania Moran

Daniel Rios visits the Career Closet to get fitted for a suit.

Amanda Guillen, Staff Reporter

UTEP’s Division of Student Affairs, in partnership with the Career Center, is working to provide students with professional business attire that can be used for interviews, career fairs and networking events.

Students will be able to borrow these suits for seven days, free of charge, but the student will have to cover the cost of dry cleaning upon return.

Christian Corrales, employer and community relations manager for student affairs, has worked closely with this new project. He said the goal of the program is to increase the professionalism and marketability of students and alumni by providing professional business clothing.

Corrales, who has been with UTEP for seven months, brought this idea to the university based on the success of a similar program at his previous job at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“I noticed that this had a great impact on students, especially students in need,” Corrales said.

Corrales said they cannot do this without the help of the UTEP community and hopes to soon have sponsors. The closet is currently receiving donations.

“We are currently asking the UTEP community to donate their gently used items, ties, jackets, blazers—and the same for females—anything that can be used in a professional setting,” he said. “This is our step one. Our phase two is finding an external body to donate money and endorse this Career Closet that invests not only in our students to help them become successful, but also to provide access to this unique opportunity for students to be prepared for professional events.”

In addition to Corrales’ pitch, student need and request is what fueled this idea.

“Students have voiced their opinion and shared the need for something like this, so as the Division for Student Affairs, we felt that it was our duty and our responsibility to follow through with that request and make this a reality for students to have,” Corrales said.

Sophomore business major Essa Zari said he supports this new program.

“This is a good idea and it is going to help a lot of students reach their goal of becoming successful,” he said. “If I ever need a suit I will consider going there.”

Betsabe Castro-Duarte, associate director of the University Career Center, said this is something positive that helps students land the job and boosts confidence.

“Many times we see students who do make themselves presentable, but they don’t have a suit and we understand that not everyone has the means to do this, so we want to create an even par for everyone,” she said. “Style is important because these suits are supposed to help students feel confident when going out into the professional field.”

She said that it is important to have suits that are current so students want to wear them. In addition, Castro-Duarte said that some of the suits at the closet are brand name, which will help with the durability and the look and feel.

“We carry Calvin Klein and really nice Men’s Warehouse suits,” she said. “We did want to make sure we offered really nice brands so students will want to borrow these suits and feel good about themselves when wearing them.”

In addition to closets being built, meeting rooms now serve as dressing rooms for students to try on the suits. They are equipped with mirrors and hangers.

Freshman criminal justice major Gloria Mariano said this is something that she is not interested in.

“This is a great opportunity for students who can’t afford suits, but I wouldn’t use it because of what people might think of me if I go,” Mariano said. “I usually don’t care what people think, but they might say that I don’t have money to buy a suit. That is my opinion, but I think it will be successful.”

Castro-Duarte said that the important message in all of this is to feel empowered and to be confident in order to land the job.

“First impressions are very important, so how you look sets off the tone of the conversation. So what better way for us to teach students how to dress for the business world and have the tools for them to get a job?” she said. “Not all jobs require that you wear a suit and tie, but you always want to make that initial wonderful impression so you always put your best foot forward no matter what the profession.”

For more information on the Career Closet, visit the University Career Center at Union Building West, Room 103.

Amanda Guillen may be reached at [email protected]