First Impressions: Professional Without The Price Tag

Story and photo by Rachel Bednarz

It’s always important to make a good first impression. Whether you’re in a job interview, traveling to a conference or making a presentation in class, First Impressions on campus has what you need so you can dress to impress.

First Impressions was started by Elizabeth Ross in 2014, and runs off of donations from alumni. The program works in partnership with the Career Development Center to make sure students are prepared for professional interviews and events.

Erica O’Toole has been the staff advisor at First Impressions for three years now. She works with both volunteer staff and the student store managers, junior Meredith Wiles and graduate student Emily Mobley.

According to O’Toole, students can receive clothing from First Impressions once per semester; that’s eight times over the course of four years. All clothing is given to students for free, and they can keep it forever.

Students can receive clothing for a number of reasons. The most common being for interviews, internship fairs and class presentations. First Impressions will serve upwards of 700 students per year for these reasons.

Mobley, O’Toole and Wiley pose in front of the First Impressions store located across from the Down Under in the University Center.

Store manager Wiles captures the purpose of the program. “I love it when [students] come in and they don’t really know what they want or they’re scared, and then they put on an outfit and they feel good.”

The rest of the staff agrees that seeing students leave with new-found-confidence can be the best part of the job. They get to experience this feeling on a larger scale when First Impressions hosts their open house in the Spring.

During the open house, First Impressions will set up their complete collection in the UC Rotunda and allow students to come in for 15 minute walk-in appointments. O’Toole says that this event will bring in over 100 students in one day and helps to spread the word about their services.

O’Toole encourages all students to schedule an appointment with First Impressions. She states that the clothing you receive is high quality and their services can be beneficial to everyone.

To schedule an appointment with First Impressions, go to, click on “career center” and then “appointments”.