KOKOMO, Ind. – Imagine being offered a job interview, but you don’t have the right clothes to wear.
This is a reality for some students at Indiana University at Kokomo.
Women in Business (WIB) and Student Marketing (SMO) organizations have teamed up to solve the problem by opening the Cougar Closet this week. The closet, located in the main building, room 180, offers free business attire to students who need them for special events, internships, job interviews, KEY trips, etc.
“It could really open up a lot of opportunities,” said Lia Roudebush, vice president of WIB, adding that with the expenses of a student, the cost of professional attire can be out of reach.
“If you’re worried about what you’re going to wear, it’s stressful,” said the Noblesville resident. “If I’m not sure I can fit in, maybe I shouldn’t go. If you let go of this stressor, people will be more willing to take advantage of these opportunities and be ready to give their best.
The closet, which will be run by student volunteers, is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It includes neatly organized shelves of two and three piece suits, dress shirts, dress pants, shoes, ties, skirts and other clothing for men and women.
Cougar Closet committee head Reese Johnson said all items are available free to students who need them.
“IU Kokomo offers so many internship and work experience opportunities. We want to alleviate the stress of having to buy the outfit to participate, ”she said. “We don’t want anyone who can’t afford to go for an interview or have something to wear for networking experiences. “
She said the closet is also a sustainability effort, as textile waste makes up 5% of all landfill space, and in the United States, the average person throws away 70 pounds of clothing a year. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 85 percent of textiles are not recycled.
“Being able to reuse clothes helps eliminate the textile waste that we accumulate every year,” she said.
Gloria Preece, associate dean of the School of Business, said the closet is a service learning project for both student organizations, giving them experience in driving environmental and social impact using the principles of management and marketing.
The Cougar Closet received grants from Women of the Well House at IU Kokomo and the Regional Economic Development Fund (RED) at IU for start-up costs. It accepts donations of lightly used professional outfits for men and women, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Education is KEY at Indiana Kokomo University.