By Denise Harroff—
In the upcoming spring semester, Tarleton students can look forward to the possibility of owning a new suit to ready them for job interviews. The Tarleton Suit Bank should be up-and-running sometime early next semester, according to Alana Hefner, the director of Career Services and a member of the Tarleton Suit Bank Committee.
According to Tarleton’s recent press release, Chancellor John Sharp’s Century Council of the Texas A&M University System awarded Tarleton “$5,000 either to start a program or supplement existing efforts.” This $5,000 is being awarded to the suit bank. Hefner said that this money will be spent on suits in order to give students the opportunity to have a successful and less stressful interview with future employers.
“If a student who is limited on income, limited on resources, doesn’t have family that’s able to help that would lead to a suit or professional wardrobe, it’s incredibly challenging for young adults who are moving into the workforce,” said Hefner. “In an interview, if the student has the ability to have something nice—one outfit that they have, a go-to that they can use repetitively on every interview—there’s a confidence level that goes beyond just the dollar amount. It is a sense of accomplishment. It’s a sense of ‘I fit in,’ and there’s a pride that goes with that that is communicated in the interview.”
Hefner also said that the stress and worry that comes along with the outfit someone wears in an interview can really take away from the entire process. She said that the student should not have to spend time wasting their thoughts stressing over what the interviewer thinks of their outfit.
“You want to be thinking about ‘How am I qualified for this position?’ ‘How do I insert myself into this industry and make myself the most ‘attractive’ person?’—attractive meaning my skills and attributes for this position and this company. That’s what we want to help them on,” said Hefner.
The committee plans to have an application process in order to approve fitting monetary amounts for each student applicant.
“Depending on what a student needs will depend on how much or what type of thing they get. There will probably be a cap, a maximum that a student can apply for. But all of the money will go towards the outfit or portions of the outfit that the student may need,” said Hefner. “We will take case-by-case consideration.”
The suit bank’s committee is made up of members from various departments on campus in order to ensure the most fair and equal-opportunity application process for students. All of the members will be reviewing the students’ applications for aid from the suit bank.
“We’ve got a good, broad base of representation on campus,” Hefner said.
Hefner explained that this suit bank will not be a physical closet with suits for students to rent. Instead, the committee imagines that students will likely be applying for giftcards or vouchers in order to be sure that the money granted to applicants is in fact being used on suits that they own and use for as long as they would like. She said that once students have been approved for a certain amount of money, they will likely be given the opportunity to find what they need within their price range and report it back to the committee, who will then order the necessities online.
“We anticipate doing something like an ordering online process,” said Hefner. “It’s kind of checks-and-balances for bookkeeping on our end, so it doesn’t go against a student’s financial aid package. We have to be careful, because if it’s looked at as a scholarship or something like that, then that could possibly run into financial need. We want to get away from that. It’s kind of like a voucher/giftcard system.”
She also said that students will not be expected to repay the money in the future, but instead they hope to see students use the money they earned from the help of the suit bank to help others.
“It will be more of a pay-it-forward type of an ordeal in the future,” she said. “In the future, we ask that you pay it forward to somebody else, whether it’s donating money back to this fund, whether once you get your career and get established you help somebody else out. Something like that.”
Hefner explained her excitement and belief in the positive effects the Tarleton Suit Bank will have on its students.
“From the career-aspect, it does help with esteem building and confidence level, which is a huge part of the interview process,” she said. “I am very excited about this. I think it’s going to open up a lot of opportunities for some young students.”