Students need to dress to impress during job interviews, but professional clothing can be expensive.
The combined efforts of Central Michigan University Career Services, the office of Enrollment and Student Services and First Lady Elizabeth Ross culminated in the grand opening of the professional clothing store First Impressions on Tuesday in the Bovee University Center.
Beginning with a catered social and welcoming remarks from Steve Johnson, vice president of student enrollment, the grand opening allowed students to explore the store and merchandise after a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
Located in U.C. room 117 across from the Down Under Food Court, First Impressions provides free business attire to students who lack the resources to purchase their own.
“When you hear a student say she has apprehension about taking a job at the state capital because she doesn’t have the appropriate clothing, or you hear a student (say) his parents bought him a suit for an interview, and the student stuffs the tag in the sleeve so that he can return it after the interview, it’s disheartening and discouraging,” Ross said.
Supported by donations, First Impressions provides free clothing to students who make an appointment on its CentralLink website and submit a short essay explaining how and why the clothing will benefit them.
More than a year in the making, First Impressions was met with support from Director of Career Services Julia Sherlock, as well as the Office of Enrollment and Student Services, and President George Ross. After initially pitching the idea, Elizabeth set to work with Sherlock to attain building space and donations from both the university and surrounding Mount Pleasant area.
“I thought it was a great idea,” George said. “For me, it’s like the crown in the CMU education, being able to walk into an interview, having the look to go with the brains.”
First Impressions has a storage facility for donated clothes in Ronan Hall 240, and is supported by John Burton of Tom James, a prominent custom retail company that caters to more than 100 locations in the U.S. and abroad.
“We see this as an absolute benefit to CMU,” Burton said.
Pontiac senior Octavia Carson was among the students who flocked through the doors of First Impressions.
Carson discovered First Impressions while walking by after finishing work at the Volunteer Center when she happened to spot Elizabeth inside, surrounded by boxes of clothing. After stopping to talk, Carson was impressed by the company and its student-oriented mission.
“My job at the Volunteer Center got more involved by trying to get volunteers to help put things up and get it going,” Carson said.