At the Gator Career Closet, we believe that nothing should stand between a student and his or her dream job, least of all the inability to purchase a professional outfit. At UF, every Gator counts. First impressions are important and at a professional event, it’s essential to look the part. It’s important to be noticed.
A Need. An Idea. A Single Suit.
We believe that finances shouldn’t hamper a student’s ability to be successful – a nice suit doesn’t define our students; their passions and aspirations do. At UF, every Gator counts. And that starts from the moment a student steps on campus, through a job interview, and on to graduation.
So how did it all begin?
We started as a group of student leaders with the desire to make sure every Gator has the resources they need to be successful. A group of staff members provided the means to get us off the ground and before we knew it, the closet was being talked about around campus, among our alumni, and in the community.
Our first “client,” was a low-income student who needed a suit, shirt, tie, and shoes for an interview. It was before we had planned to open. Before we had a single suit.
Lo and behold, this client’s measurements happened to match those of a staff member’s husband. The husband donated the necessary items to complete this client’s outfit, and he was ready for his interview.
The same day, another student dropped by the Dean of Students Office in need of a suit for an interview with Deloitte that evening. A staff member happened to have a spare suit, and it fit our student in need. The following day, this client was offered a second interview with Deloitte and 4 other firms. We needed another suit!
And we needed a rack to put all these suits on. We created a makeshift closet in a staff member’s office; sure, it wasn’t a Saks dressing room. But it was a start. Soon, our donations grew so big that our inventory couldn’t fit in an office – we needed our own space. After gaining support from various campus partners and corporate sponsors, we created the Gator Career Closet, with fitting rooms to boot.
This is what the Gator Career Closet is all about: taking care of each other through single acts of kindness, paying it forward, and enabling all students to look as great as they feel.
We recognized a need and acted on an idea. And it all started with a single suit.