First Impressions provides students with professional clothing


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CMU student Celeste Hay works in First Impressions on Tuesday, Nov. 24 in the University Center. Her job includes helping CMU students to choose suitable formal clothes.

Hillsdale junior Alyssa Bowman said her job at Central Michigan University's business clothing service is addicting.

She works at First Impressions in the lower level of the Bovee University Center, a clothing service available to students that provides free outfits appropriate for interviews and formal events. With some students graduating in a couple weeks, they might be in need of a professional outfit for formal events, internships or job interviews.

“It makes me feel (good) to have a positive impact on many people and see them going out from here with a suit or dress and a smile," Bowman said.

Most of the clothes are donated by faculty, local communities, alumni and students, said Lansing senior and First Impressions sales associate Sandy Tran.

She said students are given clothes such as ties, suits, dresses and shirts for free. Bowman said the worst feeling that someone can have in her work is when First Impressions isn’t able to give anything to students due to lack of sizes or clothes. 

“But we’re working hard to give people the best (clothing),” she said.

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CMU student Celeste Hay works in First Impressions on Tuesday, Nov. 24 in the University Center. Her job includes helping CMU students to choose suitable formal clothes.

The clothing service was the idea of Elizabeth Ross, the wife of university president George Ross.

“First Impressions prepares students for long-term success throughout the career development process,” said the program's staff adviser, Elizabeth Heintzkill.

Tran said students can apply for the free clothing through an online application, which can be find on the Career Services Department website. The student must prove with a short essay their need for the clothes and their qualification by emphasizing the importance of formal attire during their internship, interview or other formal events.

Students have to choose a specific date to arrange an appointment, said Tran. She added that they usually have eight appointments a day while they are open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

“We usually double-book during important events such as career fairs,” Tran said.

All of the members who currently work at First Impressions are students, and most of them volunteer their time. Tran said that they are trained to give career tips and suggest the appropriate attire specific to each customer to provide them with the right professional look. 

“We give them a jump-start for their future career,” she said, and added that good confidence is another key element for success.

Heintzkill said the principal mission of First Impressions is to “prepare students for productive careers, meaningful lives and responsible citizenship.” 

She said the service is growing in popularity and that during this fall around 160 students have utilized the service since First Impressions was formed in February of 2014.

Bowman recalled one of the good experiences she had working with students to find the appropriate outfit for a graduation ceremony. 

“Those clothes were made for him,” she said.

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