SRU, JCPenney event helps students “suit up” for success
Aug. 15, 2018
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - "Bold. Dramatic! Heroic!" Edna Mode, suit designer for "The Incredibles," says those are the attributes of the ideal super suit. While Mode's clients often have to jump over tall buildings in search of professional ware, students at Slippery Rock University have an easier path to follow: one that leads to the Clearview Mall in Butler.
Retailer JCPenney has teamed up with Slippery Rock University and more than 200 colleges and universities across the country to host "Suit-Up," an event for college students to shop for professional attire with a little help from friends, fashion coaches and of course, JCPenney. As part of the initiative, the Clearview Mall store will host SRU students looking for professional attire, offering a 40-percent discount and style assistance from its associates and employees of SRU's Office of Career Development and Education. The event is 2-5 p.m., Sept. 30.
The endeavor is something John Rindy, director of career education and development at SRU, has been looking to put together since his arrival at the University in 2011.
"One thing that's always been in the back of my mind, and that we have talked about repeatedly in our office, is if there was something we could do to help students find professional apparel for career fairs and the like," Rindy said.
Last year, Rindy discussed his idea with Alice Del Vecchio, assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies and adviser to SRU's Student Nonprofit Alliance. Del Vecchio had previously partnered with Dress for Success, an area nonprofit whose mission is to "empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life" to showcase their services to SNA students.
The discussion served to solidify Rindy's resolve.
"I started reaching out to a number of retailers asking if they could offer a day where I could put students on a bus and bring them to their store and if they'd be willing to offer a 30 to 40 percent discount," said Rindy. "I reached out to a specific retailer multiple times, multiple store locations, and there was zero interest. No returned emails, no returned calls. I even reached out to their corporate office and got nothing."
It was at that point that Lauren Moran, SRU director of student engagement and leadership and adviser for the Slippery Rock Student Government Association, who is working toward a doctorate in education at the University of Pittsburgh, alerted Rindy to a Suit-Up event being hosted by that campus.
"I think it's a really cool opportunity for younger students like sophomores and juniors who may not be thinking about professional jobs yet, but maybe they're starting to get into internships or other professional experiences," Moran said. "It's a neat way to create a social opportunity, but also to create something that students need and will want, and that's good practice for when they're out in the real world."
Before Rindy was able to contact JCPenney, representatives from the retailer contacted him to speak about the "Suit-Up" initiative. "The only thing left to do is promote and market the event. We're ready to roll," said Rindy.
To make it even easier for students to take advantage of the opportunity, Rindy and Moran are looking into using the SGA Happy Bus to provide transportation to the event.
"It is in Butler, and that's a trip the Happy Bus makes twice a month already," Moran said. "It makes sense to try and coordinate it so there's free transportation available to students that may need it."
Participating students will arrive at the store and check in with SRU staff before they begin shopping. Attendees can then take advantage of the discount to purchase suits, skirts, ties and shoes.
"Our staff will be there to help out anyone that might be having trouble picking something out or matching items in a fashionable way," Rindy said.
SRU's "Suit-Up" event will take place just in time for students planning to attend any of the upcoming career fairs by CDE, including the:
• Safety Management Expo, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Oct. 4, Smith Student Center Ballroom (42 employers).
• Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Job & Internship Fair, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Oct. 10, Monroeville Convention Center (180 employers).
• Business and Computing Expo, 11:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Oct. 18, SSC Ballroom (19 employers).
• Educator Professional Development Day, 8 a.m.-noon, Oct. 22, SSC Ballroom.
Rindy plans to host another "Suit-Up" excursion in the spring, just prior to career fairs slated for February and March.
"What it boils down to is, why is JCPenney doing this?" Rindy said. "Well, there's a lot of competition among retailers now that more people are shopping online and they are looking to stay relevant by building their brand with young people."
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