THE BLOG
02/07/2013 05:11 pm ET Updated Apr 09, 2013

Andrea's Story of a Suit: Ready for Opportunity

"The financial workshop at Career Wardrobe got me thinking about my credit, budgeting and making plans for my son's future. And the interviewing seminar really got me going."

Andrea Blassingame is a big woman: big in her love of her son, big in her dreams for a special events company and of being her own boss.

But when she came to the Career Wardrobe offices, she was feeling a little small. She had spent years in corporate America as an administrative assistant before stepping away to spend some time with her newborn son. Now she wanted to find her right niche in the workforce and to successfully start a business.

Step one on that long journey was getting her look together.

"As soon as I came into the office, there was someone there to greet you, to make you feel good at a time when you might not be feeling so great about yourself," she recalls.

Career Wardrobe really listened to Andrea, hearing her desire to stay away from conservative suits and find something special for her robust frame and vibrant personality. And there it was: An olive suit, set off by a purple and green striped blouse.

"When I went into my interviews, I was like 'I'm cute, you have to hire me!'" Andrea laughs.

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Andrea did get an offer and started work, but it turned out to not be as good a fit as her new suit. So she's looking again and making moves to establish her events company. She feels smarter and better prepared because of the advice and insights she's picked up from signature Career Wardrobe events, like Gateway to Success educational seminars. "I have my elevator speech prepared," she declares. "You never know when you are going to get an interview or opportunity."

Gateway to Success, A Program of Career Wardrobe

At Career Wardrobe, we recognize that a woman's professional image is key to helping her find a job. But our services don't stop there. Every woman referred to our Dressing Program services is invited to continue building her personal and professional development by participating in our Gateway to Success education program. The program follows three steps:

Blitz Basics Seminar for an overview of resume writing and interviewing including 1:1 resume review with HR professionals.
Gateway to Success in-depth four-course job-readiness curriculum.
Professional Women's Network for ongoing professional development and peer support for women as they transition to employment.

Gateway to Success is a job-readiness program that addresses a crucial issue of job preparedness that our clients face: while employers can teach new hires the individual skills they need to perform their job duties, employers do not have the time to teach a new hire how to relate well to their co-workers and customers or improve communication skills. These "tough skills," such as communication, attitude, responsibility, problem solving and presentation, are essential components of a successful career. Without them, women will be stuck in low-wage positions that don't help them move their families out of poverty. But with access to the Gateway to Success job readiness support our clients receive the vital tools they need to obtain and maintain employment.

Job Raising, Education Makes a Difference

Nine million women receive all of their earnings from minimum wage jobs. In Pennsylvania, full-time minimum wage means a woman brings home less than $15,000 a year. Women don't just need to make great first impressions: they need to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to advance their careers and climb up ladders of opportunity in their fields.

Help Career Wardrobe win The JobRaising Challenge and make a donation today.

At Career Wardrobe a small gift goes a long way:
• $10 helps a woman accessorize her new outfit with a positive attitude.
• $25 adds a pair of shoes to step forward into her new life.
• $50 provides a new professional suit for her job interview.
• $100 or more enrolls a woman in Wardrobe Careers to practice her new job skills.

As a part of the JobRaising challenge, Career Wardrobe pledges that if we win the contest, we will expand our service delivery into a new community. That means one lucky community will get The Wardrobe Boutique in their neighborhood, complete with our dressing, education, and internship services!

Don't forget to share your #StoryofaSuit! Tweet or post on our Facebook Page a picture of your first or favorite suit. How does that suit make you feel? Your #StoryofaSuit will inspire others to share, donate and give back!

Story by Tamala Edwards, 6ABC. Photograph by Jeffrey Holder.
Story of a Suit was made possible with support from US Airways, Jeffrey Holder Photography, RichArt, and Dudnyk.

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