16:00 PM

UST’s Job Interview Resource Helps Students Dress for Success

When is a simply furnished 8 ½’ x 12’ closet all the buzz? — When it’s UST’s new wardrobe resource for students who need to “look the part” for a critical job interview.

UST’s Senior Career Counselor Erin Rasbeary, M.Ed., would argue that at no time is wardrobe more critical than during an interview for a job opening.

“Yet, I’ve had students come into my office, and they’re in tears because they have an interview the next day and they simply can’t afford the clothing that’s appropriate,” Rasbeary said. “We’re doing something about that.”

With the Maria Cruz Salazar Interview Closet opening in spring 2021, those tears never have to happen again. UST has created a dedicated space in the Crooker Center with clothing racks, shoe racks, mirrors and even extra shelving for portfolios.

A donation drive happening from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., October 26 – November 6, aims to fill the racks with dress-for-success apparel.

Rasbeary said, “We’re putting a donation box in the lobby of the police department so that participants can easily pull into the circle drive and drop off their clean, gently worn items without having to park. A super convenient option for people who prefer to donate brand new professional attire is our Amazon Wishlist found here.

Especially needed are men’s and women’s suits in a range of sizes. Separate items could include belts, ties, dress shirts, suits, pants, skirts, dresses, blazers, and shoes. Rasbeary advises that donors keep the clothing styles simple and understated when it comes to colors.

Mari Salazar ‘99, eager to support such a relevant resource for students who struggle financially, readily donated the furnishings and portfolios. The UST Alumni Board director and investment banker, now “living in suits,” was a first-generation college student who grew up in a hardworking family of migrant workers. The Maria Cruz Salazar Interview Closet is named after her late mother, a remarkably generous, compassionate woman.

Salazar said, “My parents passed away when I was 16, and I well remember what it was like to have no financial resources and be determined to get my education. I worked two jobs while I attended school at night. I wore the same black and navy pants and jackets over and over because I knew it was important to establish professionalism.”

Today, Salazar has a closet full of high-quality suits, sits on several boards, and mentors young people.

“I tell them, ‘That first impression is important,’” Salazar said. “But I also know that the cost of a professional outfit is insurmountable when you’re just keeping your head above water. This closet is about easing their burden just a bit.”

For details on how to donate professional clothing, email the Career Services Center at career.services@stthom.edu.