Central Michigan University plans to do its part to help students look professional for job interviews through a new store.
First Impressions is a non-profit professional clothing store aimed at providing dress clothing for those in need, tentatively scheduled to open in the Bovee University Center toward the end of the month.
“It takes five minutes for an employer to develop a first impression of a candidate during an interview,” Director of Career Services Julia Sherlock said. “This service is meant to support and influence that a positive and confident impression is made.”
According to Director of Events and Conference Services Calvin Seelve, the store will be located on the first floor of the UC across from MicroChips. Classic Fare Catering previously occupied that space and has since been moved to a different space in the building.
CMU First Lady Elizabeth Ross thought up the idea for the store and, along with Sherlock, the two have worked to make it a reality.
“Mrs. Ross, a former business teacher, developed the idea and I have been involved from the very start,” Sherlock said. “Career Services has had programs that have addressed the importance of professional dress and the first impression, so there is a natural fit.”
After the store opens, any student will have the opportunity to acquire a set of dress clothes without dealing with high prices.
“It will be very helpful for those students who are in need,” said Anthony Voisin, assistant vice president of Student Affairs. “We have students who may not have what they need to appropriately represent themselves in an interview, so this will be a great need for those students.”
The store will be operated on a volunteer basis by Career Services and will be reliant on new and gently-used donations of professional clothing.
Associate Director of Career Services Brian Partie stressed how important it is to make a good first impression on a perspective employer.
“For students, creating a positive and lasting first impression with a potential employer is critical to securing follow up conversations,” Partie said. “Employers assess nonverbal factors, such as professional attire, throughout the recruitment and selection process for internships and full-time employment.”
Sherlock said the store is funded on a completely charitable basis.
“All clothing has been donated as has the space in the UC. All staff are volunteers and the success of this operation depends on the talent and generosity of many individuals around campus and in our community,” she said. “Also, there have been funds donated that are earmarked in support of its operation.”
Sherlock said she hopes a portion of these volunteers will be students.
“We are working with the Volunteer Center to recruit students either in the retail or (apparel, merchandising and design) programs who would like to look at this as a professional development opportunity,” Sherlock said.