Dress for Success…Without Breaking Your Fragile Bank Account

We’ve all been there. We were even warned that it would happen; that we would eventually face the sad reality that we’re actually living and breathing the stereotype of a broke college student. You’ve probably found yourself heating up your Ramen Noodles in the microwave, while looking for spare change in your couch cushions, just so you can have somewhat of a social life and see the $1 movie playing in the UC.

When it comes down to it, being broke can become a pretty stressful problem you have to deal with.

This stress becomes amplified when you finally get that interview, or attend a job fair, and you realize you’ve yet to begin building your professional wardrobe. How does one make money when one cannot get the job because one does not have the appropriate wardrobe in order to land that job?!


It’s a cycle that adds on to the stress and often discourages students from trying to get the job they really want. That’s why we’re here to tell you to stress no more! Here are some alternatives we’ve found for when it comes to getting that budget-friendly professional wardrobe.

Maybe you have some old dress clothes from your parents, or found a suit at the thrift store. I know it’s not the most ideal option, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Take what you already have and try to modify it so it looks like it was made to fit you. There are some great inexpensive tailors that can get the job done and get you ready for that interview!

Although we would all love to sport the latest Calvin Klein business wear, we know that our bank accounts would probably not cooperate with a purchase that hefty. Try to focus on the basic elements you need (not want). You probably don’t need 10 different dress shirts and 3 pairs of shoes when you’re just starting out. Start with the absolute basics and build up from there once you’ve finally secured a job. Many stores like H&M, J.C. Penny, Kohls and Sears, just to name a few, offer a good variety of professional attire for a reasonable price. Get your basics and only buy what you absolutely need!

One benefit that actually comes from being labeled a broke college student, is that handy student ID card. What most people don’t know is that your ID card can get you lots of discounts! Stores like Charlotte Russe, J. Crew, Banana Republic, and ASOS all offer students discounts, so take advantage of them! (Here’s a list of more discounts that your student card can get you! http://bit.ly/1gsRZct)

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Another option is to go through your closet and get rid of things you no longer wear or need. You can try to sell these items at stores or online and use that money towards your new professional closet! Ebay offers used clothing at reasonable prices and you can sell your old stuff at the same time! You can also search for your area to see if your community offers any local clothing swaps!  Freecycle.org, is a site that aims to encourage people to reuse and recycle their old clothes. You can find your nearest group on their website and start saving your money!

Universities all over also usually offer some resources when it comes to getting your wardrobe ready for professional events or interviews. UW-Whitewater has the “Warhawk Success Closet” that gives all students the chance to get free professional business attire that has been donated to the university. The Warhawk Success Closet will be held on September 24th and 25th from 11am-5pm in the University Center (9/24 UC69 and 9/25 UC264).

Now there’s really no excuse for wearing jeans and sandals to the next career fair. Keep these simple tips in mind and you’ll be dressed for success without enduring the guilt of breaking your bank!

The Birth of a Student Leader: DeJuan Washington’s Journey

As I began my first semester as a first generation freshman here at the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater, I was plagued with various insecurities that forced me to question my value in higher education. Like many African American students at this institution, I struggled academically and saw little progress in my quest to mirror the academic performance of the majority population. I was lost. In search of guidance to aid me in my journey of academic excellence, I attended my first Black Student Union (BSU) meeting, a place where I would soon feel at home and culturally validated in an environment that was completely new for me.

As time progressed and I entered my second semester of my freshmen year, BSU became a place of common ground for me. I was able to connect with students who looked like me, thought like me, and more importantly we shared the same lived experience. It was almost as if we were a subculture within a larger culture that we had yet learned to conquer. The beauty of this experience was that even though we felt the clear division of cultures, we still managed to thrive and coexist with our majority peers.

It was during one of the weekly BSU meetings that a guest speaker, who I later learned was the Director of Career and Leadership Development (CLD) named Ron Buchholz, came in to speak about possible internship opportunities and the importance of getting involved on campus. Being the academically challenged freshmen that I was, I immediately skimmed over the information in the flier in search of the GPA requirement, and of course I didn’t meet the criteria. I did however skim over a position at the LGBT resource center that I knew would be great for me once I achieved the GPA requirement, so all hope wasn’t lost.

Following that meeting, I worked tirelessly to boost my GPA, spending long nights in the library, exchanging my thirsty Thursdays for study Thursdays, attending office hours and most importantly asking for help when needed. For the first time in my short lived colligate career, I felt like an actual college student. I taught myself how to properly prepare for exams, how to keep track of my progress in classes, and how to manage my time wisely. These self-acquired skills taught me to believe in myself and my capabilities. I also started to realize that although grades mattered, they didn’t define a person’s success. This realization gave me the motivation that I needed to apply for my first internship within Career and Leadership Development in spite of the many barriers that haunted me.

After completing the application and receiving a call back for an interview, I still had a tiny amount of doubt in my mind that I could obtain this position without meeting the criteria. As I walked into a tiny office to be interviewed, I encountered a warm greeting from a woman I’d later grow to love as Jan Bilgen. I immediately liberated myself of all anxiety, as she made me feel comfortable in her presence and I began to bare my soul as if my life (and bank account) depended on it. In what felt like only a few seconds, 30 minutes of conversation had passed before she informed me on the next steps to take if I were offered the position 2 weeks from then and we said our goodbye’s.

Two weeks later, as I sat in the basement computer lab of Benson hall typing away at my final English paper for the semester, my phone rings. At this point I figured it was a telemarketer as I’d forgotten all about the internship and quite frankly didn’t think I would get it.  When I answered the phone, I was greeted be the same welcoming voice I’d encountered two weeks prior, only this time she spoke with a level of suspense as if there was a purpose for her call. During the entire phone call, which lasted for all of 3 minutes, I still wasn’t able to convince myself that there was great news on the other side of the conversation. However, it was to my surprise that Jan Bilgen offered me the position as the new PRIDE intern for the PB Poorman Pride Resource Center located in Career and Leadership Development.

Obtaining a position in this office was critical to my development as a student leader for two reasons. For one, it thought me to always take a step out of faith, no matter if I couldn’t see what lies ahead. Secondly, it taught me to always believe that the impossible is in fact possible. If I had never believed in my capabilities, I would’ve never recognized my fullest potential; and if I’d considered my goal as impossible, I would’ve never made it to my current reality. These two things are vital to the success of student leaders, and this is why I’ll always be thankful for my internship experience with Career and Leadership Development.

After two years as a PRIDE intern and serving in various other leaderhip roles (Peer mentor, VP of BSU, McNair Scholar, ect.) , I’ve decided to take yet another step out on faith by accepting the position as the new Social Media Manager for Career and Leadership Development. While social media isn’t at all new to me, my lists of responsibilities are. In this position I’ll provide a fresh student perspective on topics ranging from career resources provided by CLD, leadership involvement opportunities, diversity and much more. Managing social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and a blog, I’ll be fully committed to providing the general campus community with an array of essential information. It is my hope that my story has inspired you all to be leaders in your own right in spite of the obstacles and that you keep following me on the new journey I’ve begun.

How I Landed My Dream Job

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Hello friends! As the days until graduation dwindle, I can’t help but look forward to the next phase in my life. I’m fortunate enough to have landed my dream job post-grad *YAY.* I don’t mean to brag, I really don’t, but it took a ton of work to get to this point, and I really want to help all of you reach your dreams. Here are 4 quick bits of advice to help you earn your dream job. 

1. Know your dream

This might seem like common sense, but you can’t really achieve a dream if you don’t know what it is. Look at the possibilities of your future career and aim high! Nothing is impossible. I don’t care what school you went to, what your degree was in, or what your grades were like – you can pretty much do whatever your little heart desires (so cheesy, but I’m being 100% serious). So put on your favorite PJ’s and get to dreaming.

2. Plan

Good things come to those who wait, not those who wait around. Once you have your dream in mind make sure you develop a plan that will get you there. You can’t just expect your dream job to fall into your lap without any effort.

Ask yourself: Who do I need to contact? What are the stepping stones? How do I even get started?

3. Network like nobody’s business

“It’s all about who you know.” People aren’t just saying this to hear themselves talk, it’s the truth. Before my first internship I knew NO ONE. However, after I interned with my first agency, I met a lot of people that had their own connections to other people in the industry. I ended up with a pretty good connection with someone at almost every major advertising agency in Chicago through my co-workers. Everyone knows somebody who knows somebody, so take advantage of those connections.

Side-note: don’t just network with industry people, network with your peers. They have connections too!

4. Embrace failure

The likelihood of you getting your dream job on your first try is slim. I was turned down the first time I applied to mine, but I said thank you and kept in contact. A “no” doesn’t always translate to “never,” sometimes they just don’t have room for you at that time. Take this time to gain more experience that will make you an even better candidate and try, try again.