Beginning next academic year, the service that makes sure MTSU students look their best when interviewing for jobs will have a permanent location.
Raiders’ Closet, the collection of donated gently used professional attire, will move into the former testing center next to the Career Development Center on the third floor of the Keathley University Center.
“I’m hopeful that, by the time school resumes for the fall, everything will be in place,” said Dr. Virginia Hemby-Grubb, a professor in the Department of Business Communication and Entrepreneurship and the founder of the service.
Hemby-Grubb has used Room S130A, a classroom in the Business and Aerospace Building, as a repository for the suits, dresses, shoes and accessories. They have been accessible to students only from 2 to 4 p.m. on Fridays, but Hemby-Grubb hopes to change that after the move.
“The move will help with visibility,” Hemby-Grubb said. “It will also make it easier to open more frequently to students during the week and not just on Fridays.”
She said she believes the closet’s new proximity to the Career Development Center will benefit both offices, because students who go to the center for counseling can be sent next door for professional apparel, and students who go to the closet for apparel can be sent next door for counseling.
Hemby-Grubb said she also hopes that relocating Raiders’ Closet will help MTSU students take full advantage of the resources available to them to secure both internships and full-time jobs.
The new location will have more space to store more clothing, including the closet’s line of business casual attire that students might want to wear for classroom presentations, internships or student teaching sessions.
Hemby-Grubb’s concern for students has been validated by the National Business Education Association, which recently honored her with its 2014 Collegiate Teacher of the Year Award at the group’s annual conference in Los Angeles.
Along with her teaching philosophy, her students’ evaluations of her and the recognition she has brought to the discipline of business education, the judges cited Raiders’ Closet as a major reason for choosing Hemby-Grubb.
“I felt I was giving back to the students through this project,” Hemby-Grubb said. “I knew we had students who didn’t have suits or the money to buy suits.”
The closet currently needs more items, especially men’s dress shoes and men’s suits in extra-small and extra-large sizes.
Hemby-Grubb frequently scurries to local stores after hours when students contact her with emergencies. Last fall, for example, a student who had a job interview on a Monday approached Hemby-Grubb on a Friday after realizing he didn’t have a suit.
Raiders’ Closet didn’t have his size, a 50 long.
After frantically calling consignment stores and finally locating a suit, Hemby-Grubb sent her husband to pick it up.
“I took one look at the suit and was totally impressed with the quality, as it was an impeccably maintained chocolate brown Jones of New York men’s suit in a 50,” she said.
She couldn’t tell whether it was long or regular until the student tried it on and found it a perfect fit. Raiders’ Closet provided his accessories.
He went to the interview and got the job.
To ease the strain on Hemby-Grubb’s wallet, Raiders’ Closet has an MTSU Foundation account that enables donors to contribute money to the cause.
“I’ve spent money out of pocket this year that I’m not getting reimbursed for because we don’t have funds,” Hemby-Grubb chuckled. “I can only do that for so long before I have to start looking for donations.”
For more information about Raiders’ Closet, including how to donate clothing, accessories and/or the funds to buy them, contact Hemby-Grubb at 615-898-2369 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Jaye Kiblinger in the Office of Business Communication and Entrepreneurship at 615-898-2902 or email@example.com.
— Gina K. Logue (Gina.Logue@mtsu.edu)