PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University Career Services has two new Internet programs to aid students in the often less than tranquil task of finding a job after college.
Dress to Impress, an interactive Internet site at http://amid.wsu.edu/amt/dti/intro.html, is designed to give students a look inside employers’ heads when it comes to interview and workplace attire. The site was a joint effort between Career Services and the Apparel, Merchandising and Textiles Program.
Erin Ward, the site’s designer, jumpstarted the project for her master’s thesis. She and other developers, Carol Salusso, a professor of apparel, merchandising and textiles, Ronda McLean, coordinator of experimental learning and academic enhancement for Career Services, and Dave Haining, also of Career Services, sent questionnaires to more than 100 employers.
In the past, Dress to Impress was an annual event in which students modeled clothing and employers from around the state and employers could comment on the credibility and professionalism of the clothes. After the exhibit, employers met in smaller groups to give additional feedback about details such as choosing the right accessories and how to tie a necktie. The site developers were searching for a more permanent solution that was interactive as well.
“We wanted something students could access all the time,” McLean said. “This way, it is up on the Web, but in a way, students are interacting with employers.”
Salusso was in charge of choosing clothes that were pleasing to the eye and interview-appropriate.
“I looked at the literature dealing with interview dress and thought, ‘this stuff is old and moldy,’” Salusso said. “We live in such a visual culture, so people need to learn to use their appearances as an asset. Don’t become an appearance victim.”
She hopes the Web site will be a valuable resource for students to use in advancing their careers.
“When students walk into that interview circumstance, I don’t want them to lose an opportunity that their resume and experience qualifies them for,” she said. “That first minute can make you or break you.”
While Dress to Impress deals with choosing the perfect outfit once a job or interview has been secured, many students need assistance in getting to that point. This is where the Alumni Network Web site steps in.
The Career Contact and Alumni Network, a collaboration between Career Services and the Alumni Center, is a Web site that connects students with WSU alumni to gain contacts and access to career advice.
“Since it’s on the Web now, students should have an easy time finding professionals within their fields who can give them valuable information and set up an informational interview,” McLean said.
As of now, the network has 132 mentors signed up for the program, but McLean hopes it will grow to 500 or more. “I would love to see it expanded,” she said. “We’re looking for anything that will give our students that competitive edge and the employers really do want to contribute and be contacted by students.”
The WSU Alumni Network can be accessed at http://alumni.wsu.edu/ccan/. Once there, students can choose the “Connect with Alumni” option and follow the guidelines to connect to the network.