By Dr. Laurie Miller
An associate professor of practice in economics, Dr. Laurie Miller earned the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015. She also serves as the faculty adviser to Delta Sigma Pi (DSP), a co-ed professional business fraternity at Nebraska.
The Career Closet started because the students in DSP wanted to leave a legacy that gives back. The Career Closet mission is to provide a needed resource to Nebraska Business students for no cost while also providing the students in DSP the real-life business experience of running a nonprofit store.
We opened as a pop-up shop in the spring of 2017 and about 150 individual apparel items were provided to students those first few months. Oh, how we have grown since then! The Career Closet now spans two rooms in Hawks Hall with built-in permanent shelving made possible through generous donations from Union Bank, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and private donations.
This fall, we started with more than 2,000 gently used, professional clothing pieces available to business students. Required to work three hours a semester in the Career Closet, DSP students spend much of their time tagging the items by hand, organizing the closets and helping students select items.
All Nebraska Business undergraduate or graduate students are allowed to take and keep three items each semester. So far this fall, students selected 680 pieces of clothing. We also host sidewalk sales open to all university students a few times a semester and invite special groups on campus to take advantage of the Career Closet, like the DREAMBIG Academy, a program for high school seniors to learn about business and college.
With high hopes for the future, we plan to build and strengthen relationships with programs across campus and support as many students as our inventory allows. We also want enough inventory to start a mobile Career Closet – a truck or a van outfitted with clothes – so we can bring clothing to students all over campus. We need to improve our inventory system to do that effectively. However, it would meet our overall goal to provide professional clothing to as many students as possible so they can put their best foot forward.
Financial struggles are the first and foremost obstacle in the way of obtaining an education. The career closet can have a huge positive impact on student’s preparedness.
"Financial struggles are the first and foremost obstacle in the way of obtaining an education. The career closet can have a huge positive impact on student’s preparedness."
Junior Economics Major, Lincoln, Nebraska