PULLMAN – Business students at WSU have teamed with social service organizations and WSU alumni to aid community members stepping back into the workforce.
 
The outreach program titled the Cougar Closet, offers career preparation services and professional clothing for job interviews. The Cougar Closet is run by WSU Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), a registered student club in the College of Business.
 
The group is working with the local WorkSource office, a state-run employment service; Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse; and Community Action Center to provide training seminars and workshops.
 
Topics covered include resume writing, interview techniques and dress etiquette. Participants are able to visit the closet to select an outfit upon completion of the workshops.
 
Former WSU students Connie Ostrander and Vicki Gordon approached the college about the initial idea, and contacted donors for the program. Within a short time more than 20 people had donated their own gently used business suits to the closet.
 
“I’m so pleased to have the opportunity to work with the College of Business on this important project,” said Ostrander. “This is a chance to help people in the community to not only learn valuable skills, but a way to prepare deserving people for the work force. It’s a chance to help someone succeed.”
 
CB Dean Eric Spangenberg confirmed his support of the project and provided some startup money from the Dean’s Excellence Fund and the Maughmer Freedom Philosophy Chair funds.
 
The Port of Whitman also donated unoccupied space in Pullman’s industrial park to use as the “storefront” for the closet, and clothing racks were donated by Macy’s in Tri-Cities.
 
Workshops will be held several times each year and access to the closet will be provided as needed.
 
“I’m very proud of the SIFE students for bringing this incredible project together,” said Debra McCarver, the team’s faculty advisor. “They showed incredible initiative in organizing and putting together all the pieces. It’s very exciting to see the variety of organizations working together for this project.”