I spent yesterday volunteering at Dress for Success, a charity with a mission to empower women to achieve economic independence. They do this by providing a support network, smart clothing and interview advice to help prepare women for success in the workplace and their lives.
I was working at the London branch near Brick Lane. Clients can make appointments here based around the process of having a job interview. Appointments involve preparing for the interview, helping clients by selecting suitable clothing and practicing interview questions. There is also a careers chat appointment, which focuses on career guidance, focusing the job search and improving cvs.
Appointments are held in a boutique which feels like a comfortable and safe environment. As volunteers we spent time sorting through clothing donations, steaming and hanging the clothes ready for wear. There is a lot of clothing in a small space so information architecture skills come in useful here. The team have things well-organised by size and clothing type, which enables stylists to quickly get to items for their clients.
What became apparent through the day is that this is about much more than clothes. It’s about raising the confidence of women. I was struck by the dedication of the long-term volunteers with delivering the right experience. They prepare fastidiously for appointments, selecting a range of options for the client with the clear goal of having her leave feeling happy and ready for anything. They show empathy, sensitivity and generosity.
I was reminded of my first graduate job interview, wearing a cut-price trouser suit and desperately hoping I looked more professional than I felt! At times like these, a helping hand makes all the difference. Workplaces can be daunting, and this is especially the case when you enter them for the first time or after taking time out. Dress for Success is a fantastic service to help women on the journey and there are lots of ways to get involved.