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Bush School Students Help Bring Suit Rental Service To Fruition

January 29, 2016

  Mason Parish and Braden Kennedy

Mason Parish and Braden Kennedy

Not having a professional suit is often a barrier for many students as they head out for job interviews and networking functions, but a new suit-rental service at Texas A&M University is helping to alleviate this problem. A team of Bush School students were part of the effort to bring this “Career Closet” to fruition.

“The idea first emerged when I was walking across Kansas State’s campus with their student body president and I saw they had a suit rental service very similar to the one recently launched on A&M’s campus,” says Mason Parish, a second-year Bush School student. “When I went back to the career center at Texas A&M to see if they had a service like that here they told us they did but it was focused on business students. That’s when we decided to expand the idea and make the Texas A&M Career Closet so that every student across campus could have access to professional attire in order to launch the career of their dreams.”

Parish soon partnered up with Wayne Beckerman, a fellow Bush Student, to work on a proposal for what the student service might look like. The idea of a “career closet” had been one also encountered by another Bush School student, Braden Kennedy, while serving in Texas A&M’s student government association.

“We talked about a career closet when I was involved in SGA last year on main campus,” says Kennedy. “Then we heard that Mason and Wayne were heading up an effort to bring the Career Closet to campus and offered any help we could provide.”

The executive team included Priscilla Barbour, who serves as director of internal operations; Kennedy, director of external relations; Beckerman, director of procurement; Amanda Dick, director of human resource management; and Ryan Self, director of marketing and communications.

Bringing the Career Closet to Texas A&M required not only a strong team, but also funding, something Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp was able to provide through his Chancellor’s Century Council. Last fall, the chancellor donated $70,000 to help create career closets at the system’s 11 universities, $20,000 of which went to the main campus Career Closet.

  Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp (left) joins the Career Closet ribbon-cutting

Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp (left) joins the Career Closet ribbon-cutting

“The Chancellor’s interest in supporting the Texas A&M Career Closet only further solidified the value of the program,” says Parish. “His gift further impacted students across the A&M system by giving $5,000 to every school in the system.”

In addition to the donation the Career Closet received from the chancellor, the organization also received $15,000 from the Association of Former Students in order to help remodel office space in the Memorial Student Center. The remodeled space has allowed for suit storage and changing rooms. Major donors, including the Brazos Valley A&M Club, the Dallas A&M Club, State Farm, Charles Schwab, and Union Pacific, have further helped fund the new organization.

While donations from the chancellor, the Association, and other donors have helped the organization get off the ground, the Career Closet is hoping to ensure the service remains operational for years to come by growing their endowment to $100,000.

“It’s amazing the affinity people have for the Texas A&M Career Closet,” Parish notes. “We have received tremendous support from across campus from individuals who believe in our mission and know we are doing good work. We have also been able to solicit financial contributions from A&M clubs and individual donors who believe in what we’re doing.”

So far, the Texas A&M Career Closet has been able to purchase 200 men’s and women’s suits for students to rent. Students only pay a $5 fee for dry cleaning at Park Cleaners, helping to ensure low-income students are able to have access to professional attire without a burdensome cost.

The Career Closet has already seen a demand for the service given the many career fairs taking place this semester, including the Spring 2016 Engineering Career Fair, one of the largest engineering career fairs in the country.

“To know where it started, starting with a simple idea and watching it turn into a reality is truly amazing,” Parish says. “This process has required a lot of hard work from the members of the Career Closet team and could not have been possible without the support of so many individuals across campus and within the A&M community. I’m excited to think of the doors that will be opened to Aggies with the help of the Career Closet. ”

For more on the Texas A&M University Career Closet, visit http://www.tamucareercloset.com

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