COSTA MESA, Calif. — It’s one thing to land a job interview, but everyone knows you only get one shot at making a good first impression.

That’s why college senior Kimberly Alcala hoped to put the perfect outfit together for prospective job interviews.

What You Need To Know

  • Vanguard University offers students professional attire in its "career closet"

  • Items are donated by staff, alumni, community members, and collaborating partners

  • According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of NY, recent graduates in June 2020 experienced a 12.9% unemployment rate, compared to 4.1% in June 2019

“Once we graduate, it’s important to impress where we want to work,” said Alcala.

What’s unique is that she didn't shop at a store, but rather at Vanguard University’s Samson’s Career Pop-Up Closet on campus in Costa Mesa — where staff, alumni, community, members, and collaborating employers have all donated professional attire to help current college seniors dress for the jobs they want.

"Without a program like this, I think I would be really lost," Alcala said. "I wouldn’t know what’s considered professional, or maybe my definition of 'professional' is not what jobs are looking for."

The COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the pressure on graduates looking for a job. According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, recent graduates in June 2020 experienced a 12.9% unemployment rate, compared to 4.1% in June of 2019.

Vanguard University Director of Career Services JJ Smith explained that coupled with unemployment numbers is the fact that 50% of students polled last year at Vanguard stated they experience some form of basic needs insecurity.

"We know that the number one way to find jobs is through networking," said Smith. "So increasing a student’s social capital and making a positive first impression is incredibly important as they go out to look for jobs and internships."

With a catalog of over 400 items, there are no price tags involved. But the value of giving back and investing in someone else’s career is priceless.

"For people to want to see us, the younger generation succeed is amazing, to see that people are giving back and they just want the future to just keep exceeding and getting better," said Alcala.

For more information for the career closet, visit here.