Jinshi Goshorn: "Mastodon Career Closet" Transcript
Hi everyone my name is Gigi Goshorn and I’m a finance and marketing major. My senior honors project is a creative endeavor titled Mastodon Career Closet. My mentor is doctor Carolyn Stumph.
So what is the Mastodon Career Closet? It’s a place where students can get free professional attire on a first come first serve basis, as well as information on dressing in a professional matter. Currently the closet is located on the third floor of Neff in room 361.
I started to produce ideas for what I wanted to my project to be during the spring of my sophomore year. I decided that I wanted to do something based on campus need at Purdue Fort Wayne. I went to the Dean of the business school and asked them, “Is there any need that the university has that I could work on filling?” We talked about how companies who interact with our students have said many times that at careers fairs and interviews sometimes our students are not dressed appropriately. After discussing ways to improve that statistic, the closet came to life. My objective is to be able to offer students access to free professional attire.
This has been 2 years in the making. looking back to fall 2018 when I first began my project, I talked with people all over the campus find a space for the closet they all basically mentioned that they think it’s a great idea but that there is nowhere they knew of that the closet could go. So with the help of my mentor I was able to secure a location on the third floor of Neff in room 361. This is a Doermer School owned room. I also brainstormed funding ideas, which included student government funding and Honors funding.
In starting a clothing drive I worked closely with my mentor to figure out how to get this closet started up. I conducted some primary researching created a service for companies associated with Purdue Fort Wayne students and another survey for the students at Purdue Fort Wayne to gauge the level of need and interest in this idea. I worked on cleaning up the room which used to be a grad student office and storage area through the spring of 2019 I started the clothing drive on campus as well as got various companies around the area to host their own clothing drive. I slowly put together the closet after I was awarded $3000 from the Student Government Association to help with startup costs and in January. I distributed the surveys I created and later near the end of the semester analyze the results so that I could create a closet to fit the need of our students. Later we will go through some of these results.
In the summer of 2019, I continued the clothing drive and setting up the clothes as donations kept coming here. I also worked on creating an Excel file to keep track. My senior year did this all the clothing donation really increased as faculty and staff came back through the new academic year I was visiting the closet a couple hours each week just to keep up with the donations and to continue to put together the operations for when the closet would open. I was awarded $1000 from the Honors Program for an Honors scholarship to be used for my senior project, and I reached out to other Career Closets to ask about their operations so that I could start creating policies for when students came to check out clothing. My original opening date kept getting pushed back because the room I was in I was sharing with another faculty member and it was slowly outgrowing the space allocated to it to due to the amount of donations I received. This was an absolutely amazing problem to run into which led me to look for other spaces on campus to move the closet to. At the end of the fall semester eventually the clothing closet was able to occupy the entire room we were in and so we started planning a grand opening once we knew that there was enough space.
The grand opening occurred in February. Dr. Carolyn Stumph […] market the closet to students in the grand opening I partnered with career services and their “dress for success” fashion show. The fashion show borrowed clothing from the closet and was right before our grand opening occurred. […] is expressed to students how they could get any of the outfits modeled at the Career Closet and they also encourage students who attended the fashion show to go to the grand opening of the Career Closet right afterwards. The grand opening had a ribbon cutting ceremony with the chancellor and it also included ABC 21 news and the Journal Gazette. They both […] on the closet and mention to the community how they could support students at Purdue Fort Wayne through donations.
I prepared a company survey to see how satisfied companies were in our students’ dress and how big of a role that may play in their hiring process. Seven companies responsed. I did not have access to their list at any point in time so I do not know how many companies received it, but maybe did not respond and for the student survey I distributed it to the business school the also international education, the office of diversity and multicultural affairs, career services, and students in transitions. My goal was to get a vast amount of different majors to participate and I received 131 student responses.
Again I did not have a list of all their students that they sent it to, but I do know how many responses I got back, and this closet is designed for all majors of students, including Indiana University Fort Wayne students, which is why I sent the email to the different departments. However, for the student survey results were about 95% were from business students, and I’m not exactly sure why that is. My assumption is that it’s either because a lot of students recognized my name and an email from the business school and wanted to help out a fellow student or maybe because the other departments did not circulate this survey as far as I would have hoped, but I cannot be certain.
For the company survey the first two questions were demographics, and one of the questions asked a person to identify their industry. I separated the industries by the tradeable sector and the non tradeable sector. 66% were identified as a non tradable sector like finance or retail, and 34% word in a fight is a tradeable sector like manufacturing. Then I asked companies to indicate whether they agree or disagree with the following statements. For the first question I asked, it said, “I am pleased with PFW student stress during interviews.”
We can see that the treatable sector is slightly more pleased than the non tradeable sector, and diving into that result, the tradeable sector mainly involves the engineering and manufacturing industry which usually does not require professional dress as often as let’s say the finance industry would for instance.
And lastly I wanted to know if the companies had a current professional dress code that they required students to follow if they were hired in. […] sector had a higher percentage of companies who required students to dress professionally. From these 3 statements I was able to see that around 30% of the companies who were not pleased to talk to students or just during interviews and it also became apparent that the non tradable sector requires professional dress more than tradeable sector does, so students in these 2 sectors Chris had different expectations set to them by the companies, and it’s important that the people who operate this closet understand that as well.
Next for the student survey the first few questions again were about demographics. Out of 131 student responses, 69 of them identified as male and 58 identified as female. […] is not specific to first or second year students who may be new to the campus but it’s actually an issue that anyone on our campus can face no matter how old you are or what year of college you are in.
Then I wanted to know what problems if any students experience when they dressed professionally. A lot of students chose more than one answer if necessary and out of 88 responses from the males, 43% of those or that clothing is too expensive, and out of 70 different responses for the females 31% of those for that clothing is too expensive. The closet then should be beneficial to those who cannot afford or do you not want to buy expensive clothing.
I also asked if they are confident in their ability to wear professional or business casual clothing. When asked, the majority of students said that they agree with this statement or strongly agree with that statement. This was somewhat of a surprise to me but I have to also keep in mind that this is from a student’s viewpoint not from the company’s professional viewpoint. It doesn’t always mean that that is what should be worn to an interview.
Males were more confident in their ability to wear professional dress and females that and now it was an interesting result as a graph I just showed you before shows that males responded with more reasons it would visit the closet then the females that.
So with that in mind I think you figure out how this project will happen. Once I was awarded a $1000 scholarship from the Honors Center in conjunction with my senior honors project, I allocated this amount for the dry-cleaning costs of returned items and donated items so that the cost to students is 100% free. From the student government I was approved for $3000 in the spring of 2019 I used to spending to buy hangers and other startup items that the closet really needed. And lastly I […] clothing drive I worked with the department on campus to have donation boxes, and there is currently a box in Kettler and Neff which has been there since a clothing drive started in April 2019. I also partnered with other Fort Wayne companies in the area for clothing donations like Trelleborg, Old National Bank, and Vera Bradley.
We were able to have our grand opening, and this is the flyer created to market the grand opening to faculty staff and students. It occurred on February 26 just over 2 months ago and was created by the career services. This was a flyer they created and then as you can see in the middle, it says, “starts at 1:15 after the fashion show,” which I mentioned we collaborated on earlier.
It operates in NF 361, which is right across from the Doermer School of Business student success center. It is not a permanent location. When Career Services moves to their new doermer school of business building and Mastodon crew closet will be housed within crew services in that building and they will also operate it. Is currently right now run by me and was open Mondays from 12 PM to 2:30 PM and by appointment if necessary back when the campus was open. Since the campus is currently closed the Career Closet is also currently closed to students.
So what’s in this closet right now? The availability in sizes and styles always depends on donations and what is checked out to students. I track the size the style and the color donations as they come in and it also personally vet every item. If it does not meet the requirements for the closet we will then donate it somewhere else. On the student survey I asked students what they would like to see in this closet and some of the request included ties statement pieces like jewelry, clothing for all body types, summer versus winter clothing, dress shoes, and different levels of dressing which would be professional or business casual. Currently the closet has 127 tops, 119 bottoms, which includes skirts pants and dresses, 55 blazers, and over 30 shoes and just over 5 purses. The clothing also varies from business casual to business professional style. And in this Excel file I mentioned earlier I can easily see on this dashboard what items are available or checked out and how many each cell we have so if a student comes in and says I need a white shirt and black pants all size medium then I can easily look up what size and color we have.
Then these are some pictures of […] painted and then finally filled with over 400 items of clothing. Lastly I would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who helped me along the way this was a big project to take on and I couldn't have done it without every single one of these people: my mentor Dr. Carolyn Stumph, Farah Combs and Michele Shawver, Zafar Nazarov, career services, Susan Byer, the student government Association, Delta Sigma Pi, the Purdue Fort Wayne campus community and the Fort Wayne community. And here are the references to everything I noted with in the slides earlier. Thank you so much for listening if you have any other questions or comments I look forward to hearing them and seeing them otherwise thank you for your time.