PCC equips students with professional style

Vydalia Weatherly, Staff writer

As college students, we are always told first impressions are important, especially when it comes to interviews. Interviewers are instantly judging candidates based on how they look, starting at introductions.

How one dresses during an interview could be the determining factor on whether or not that person attains a job, internship, etc.

Unfortunately, many college students struggle affording professional business clothes. Recognizing the financial barriers college students face, Mercyhurst created the Professional Clothing Closet (PCC).

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Associate Dean of the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences, Maria L. Garase, Ph.D., runs the PCC.

“The PCC is an on-campus office that provides students with free access to professional business attire for purposes of class presentations, job interviews, career fairs and other important career development activities. It is open to all students and is a confidential service,” said Garase.

Garase stated that although the selection is dependent on donated inventory, professional offerings include formal suits, shirts, ties, pants and shoes. The PCC also has business casual clothing, which is nice pants and shirts/sweaters.

Once taken from the PCC, these clothes are yours to keep.

The PCC started at Mercyhurst in 2017 and has grown significantly in the past five years. Most of the items are donated by generous Mercyhurst faculty members and staff at Erie Insurance.

In recent years, it has grown more important to have the PCC on campus.

After noticing that many students were not wearing the proper attire to interviews or presentations, and learning that money was the issue, Garase decided to so something about it.

“Some have professional attire, but do not have access to it while they are on campus (e.g., it is at home). They don’t want to miss the chance at an interview that just popped up. Thus, they are wearing what they have and what they think is appropriate to interviews and career related events. As we all know, first impressions are critically important. The PCC and Dress for Success affiliate wants to help students ‘dress to impress’ so that they can feel confident at their next career-related activity,” said Garase.

Despite the Professional Clothing Closet carrying mostly masculine clothing items, Mercyhurst found an outside partnership for individuals seeking professional feminine clothing items that the PCC may not have.

“We have signed an affiliation agreement with the Mercy Center for Women’s Dress For Success (DFS) program for our female students to use their professional clothing/suiting services, free of charge,” said Garase.

For this service, students must contact Garase. This takes a few days from referral to appointment, and in some cases, transportation can be provided. Items are size inclusive. The PCC has a limited amount of women’s clothing as well.

The PCC is located in 121 Preston Hall. The closet is filled with clothes but has not been utilized a lot.

“So far this semester, we have had 18 students take advantage of the PCC. We only track the number of students who use the closet, we do not take any names. It is a confidential service. Since we started collecting data on usage, we have seen about 15-20 students a year,” said Garase.

If you already have a full suit, but receive a second interview, you can stop by the PCC to obtain a new shirt and tie.

Students can stop by the PCC every Monday and Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for walk-in hours.

Students can also email Garase at mgarase@mercyhurst.edu to make an appointment outside of walk-in hours.