Abby DePasquale, Associate Director at Nichols College, shared a novel way that the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) team at Nichols College is using Handshake Appointments—running a professional clothing lending closet for students! Starting in 2017 with roughly 75 pieces of clothing, the Bison Boutique has allowed students to reserve attire for professional events for free. Donations and funding have since helped them expand their offering to over 250 items in a range of sizes (and cover dry cleaning between rentals). Last academic year, the CPDC team at Nichols facilitated over 660 rentals and assisted almost 200 students with their professional clothing needs.
Handshake appointments handle the vital task of reservation management. During the brainstorming phase in 2017, Abby (and her former coworker) created a “Bison Boutique” appointment category with appointment types for each item. The appointment “starts” when the student picks up the garment and is “completed” when they return it. They use the staff member survey to collect information about the garment both when it’s picked up and returned—dates of the rental, the condition of the garment, etc. Because the whole process is run through appointments, it’s easy for Abby and the CPDC team to report on the program using Handshake Analytics. Each academic year, they can track the number of rentals and also the unique number of students served.
While some students are remote this semester, Abby and the CPDC team at Nichols College continue to offer this service to students who are on campus. It remains a great (and safe) way to help students prepare for virtual events. Kudos to Abby and the team!