Update: The Professional Closet on the Macon Campus will host a formal grand opening from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, April 10. The event begins with a half-hour-long fashion show in the lobby of the Student Life Center, followed by snacks in the Office of Career Services, SLC second floor.
As she wraps up her bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, Tashira Monereau is spending as much time on a job search as she is on her classes – if not more.
The Middle Georgia State senior practically camps out at the University’s Career Services office, where she participates in workshops on interviewing techniques, resume writing and time management.
She also shops for business-suitable clothing there, taking advantage one of MGA’s lesser known services for students and alumni – The Professional Closet, or TPC.
“It’s a great benefit for students,” the 25-year-old Atlanta native said in a recent interview, to which she wore a nice Nautica cream-colored dress with blue stripes and matching accessories that she bought from TPC. “When you’re on a budget, it’s hard to find affordable professional clothes you can wear to interviews.”
A collaborative project of several MGA departments, The Professional Closet is housed in the Career Services offices on the Macon and Cochran campuses. Until recently, merchandise was more or less in storage, but an actual “store,” where clothing and accessories are displayed on racks and shelves, is about to open in Macon. A Cochran Campus store is scheduled to open this spring.
“Until now we haven’t had the staff to maintain a storefront,” said Dr. Loleta Sartin, an associate professor of Education who co-founded The Professional Closet several years ago with Molly Kimsey, lecturer in Education. “A number of things have come together that make this a good time for The Professional Closet to step up. Middle Georgia State is ready to make it a centerpiece of student services, as it is at many universities.”
Sartin and Kimsey founded The Professional Closet in 2013 as a way to give Education majors access to business wardrobes they could wear to student teaching assignments. They quickly expanded the service to include all students, regardless of major, but staffing and space issues made The Professional Closet a hit-or-miss undertaking.
The service got a major lift when Dr. Melinda Robinson-Moffett joined Middle Georgia State as director of Career Services. Through her work with a national association of career services professionals, Robinson-Moffett knew how vital college and university Professional Closets are to helping students gain entry to the workforce after graduation.
“We can do all these wonderful things for students in the classroom, in the residence halls, through experiential learning and helping them with their resumes and interviewing skills,” Robinson-Moffett said, “but if we can’t help them look the part when they go out into the world of work we haven’t done enough.”
Another Professional Closet boost came when Ben Mullis, an MGA reference and instruction librarian, took an interest in soliciting donations of business attire for students from his Cochran civic club. Mullis recently partnered with Robinson-Moffett to hold a “How to Tie a Tie” workshop on the Cochran Campus, which drew dozens of male and female students.
More support came from the Fiscal Affairs office, which agreed to pay for space modifications needed to set up storefronts in Macon and Cochran.
As interested parties from various University departments came together in support of the Professional Closet, the service’s first formal executive board emerged. Members include Sartin, Kimsey, Mullis and Robinson-Moffett, as well as Amy Martin of the Student Life office; Keigan Evans of Residence Life; students TeAndre Dennis (SGA) and Tyler Cooper (Brothers of Leadership Distinction - BOLD); and Sheron Smith of the Marketing and Communications department.
Heather McIntosh, administrative secretary for Career Services, is playing a key role by opening The Professional Closet to students on the Macon Campus and fielding phone and email questions. Student workers on the Cochran Campus will help manage the service there.
“We have such a solid foundation of support now that The Professional Closet is able to experience a strong renewal,” Sartin said. “As soon as possible, we’ll have some grand openings and collaborate with student organizations on fashion shows to help get the word out.”
Monereau, the soon-to-be IT graduate, is already doing her part, advising fellow students getting ready to launch job searches or attend upcoming career fairs to check out the service.
“When I first saw The Professional Closet, I was surprised at the options,” she said. “A lot of the clothing is new, or so gently used you think it’s new. It didn’t take me long to find something I like.”
More About The Professional Closet:
New and gently used suitable-for-work clothing and accessories, including ties and shoes, are available for purchase to MGA students, alumni, faculty and staff through Career Services offices on the Macon Campus (Student Life Center, Suite 254) and Cochran Campus (Sanford Hall, Suite 112). The cost of any single item does not exceed $5, and all proceeds are reinvested into The Professional Closet.
Macon and Cochran campus storefronts will soon open. Anyone who needs business attire in the meantime can call (478) 471-2714 for information.
Donations of new and gently used attire are welcome, and pickup can be arranged. The Professional Closet also accepts donations of laundry detergent, fabric sprays and hangers. Call (478) 471-2714.
As a convenience, The Professional Closet also takes donations of non-perishable food items for the SHARE Pantry, a service of the Student Life office for students, faculty and staff. Call (478) 471-2714.
MGA’s Office of Career Services offers a variety of resources to help students and alumni with their job and internship searches. Learn more at mga.edu/cs.
Photo: IT major Tashira Monereau is wearing a dress and earrings she found at The Professional Closet.
Originally published September 2016.