“Dress for success” is a common term used in colleges and universities, frequently followed by a community sponsored clothing drive to help college students compile a wardrobe for their desired career path. 

Alex Gandy, Missouri Southern’s Director of Career Services, says it’s considered a best practice for career services offices to have a clothing rack, or an event to provide resources for students to obtain professional attire.

“Here at Missouri Southern we wanted to impact more students and have it be a little bit more event based and drop a little bit more attention,” said Gandy.

Last year’s Dress to Impress: Professional Clothing Giveaway presented by the Young Professionals Network (YPN) impacted 1,399 students in all.

“Last year we served 393 students in one day. It’s like a pop-up department store and we typically have 20 – 50 students come in at a time,” said Gandy.

Southern’s partnership with the YPN is a connection building group who volunteer their time to create inclusive spaces for the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce members under the age of 40.

Gandy says after feedback from employers, it was made aware they would like to see students dress more professionally for interviews, and even on the job.

The partnership between Southern and the Chamber of Commerce allows students the opportunity to meet a young professional or chamber member to identify what clothes their desired career dress code should consist of.

With businesses like Google and Amazon switching to more relaxed work environments, a shift to casual ware is evident among employers. However, a study conducted by Randstad in August of 2019 still shows most employers prefer conservative attire when interviewing for a job.

“We want students to make a positive and professional impression to any employer that they connect with and that starts with dressing professionally”, said Gandy.

Erin Slifka, Marketing & Public Information Manager of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, says the Dress to Impress event is a great way to give back to Southern students and relieve some of the stresses of what to wear to the interview.

“They’ll have a wardrobe they can go to without having to spend their first few paychecks on a new outfit when they can walk into wherever they may go and feel confident,” said Slifka.

Southern will host its sixth annual Dress to Impress: Professional Clothing Giveaway March 4. The event, spanning from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. will pair a student with a professional from within the community to guide them through their shopping experience.

Depending upon career choice, dress code can vary. Gandy believes the Dress to Impress event caters to a wide variety of students.

“Every student has a different perspective on fashion and style, and how it fits their body and we want to respect that and so we try to offer a wide variety of clothing and a wide variety of sizes and styles,” said Gandy.

The typical shopping times range from 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half dependent upon the number of items each student decides to try on.

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