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Well-Suited for Success

For KaraMcNish ’12, a business major and student-athlete with a social conscience, Dress for Success was the perfect place to complete a business and marketing internship during the spring semester of her junior year. Dress for Success offers professional attire, career development tools, and a support network for women reentering the workforce. The organization’s mission, “to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women,” is realized through the efforts of full-time employees and volunteers in more than 75 cities worldwide. Dress for Success serves a diverse group of women, ranging from professionals to those with little or no previous work experience, whose careers have been interrupted for a variety of factors, including the economic downturn, incarceration, or substance abuse, according to Manhattan branch manager Wendy Wilkins.

“The current economy has brought in a lot more referrals, especially from higher skilled, educated women than in previous years,” she says. The organization partners with more than 300 other non-profit organizations in Manhattan alone that offer job readiness training. After they have completed this training and have obtained a job interview, the women are then referred to Dress for Success, where they polish their resumes and wardrobes to land a job. Dress for Success has three New York locations — in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens.

The Manhattan site is the most active location worldwide, suiting roughly 3,000 women last year, according to Ms.Wilkins. Ms.Wilkins and her team, including Kara, provide a wide range of services to their clients, including wardrobe assistance, job interview tips, resume advice, and if they don’t land the job, comprehensive advice on how to ace the next interview through the Going Places Network.

As part of her internship, Kara helps to organize the Going Places Network, a weekly group that covers topics ranging from workplace transition skills, tips for writing resumes and cover letters, managing finances and dealing with job rejection.

“She’s done a fantastic job,” says Ms.Wilkins of Kara’s performance. Kara created flyers, designed invitations, assembled an orientation packet, and entered all RSVPs for the program. Kara finds working for a non-profit

  10:00 AM- Arrives at the office, where she is updated by supervisor Wendy Wilkins on the Going Places Network and on which clients are coming in for suiting. She also follows up with guest speakers about other programs.
  11:00-1:30 PM- Greets and suits arriving guests, taking their measurements and making sure they are provided with the necessary clothing for a job interview. Clients are provided with two suits for interviews and then later given a week’s worth of clothing if they land the job.
  1:30-2:30 PM- Takes a lunch break.
  2:30-5:00 PM- Works on computer tasks, where she does any necessary research for upcoming programs. Follows up with clients scheduled for suiting appointments or those who wish to partake in the other services that Dress for Success offers. Mails confirmation letters for new programs.