Look Good, Do Good: Epps Launches Olinde Career Center Closet

January 23, 2024

BATON ROUGE, LA - SOE Instructor, Sydney Epps, PhD, is helping LSU students look & feel their best with the newly launched Olinde Career Center Closet. The Career Closet is on a mission to make the student experience of finding professional attire more accessible, affordable, and sustainable. We caught up with Epps to talk about her continued efforts to support students in their professional development journey.Students donating to the career closet

Dr. Epps, you launched a Career Clothing Closet with donated clothing for LSU students. What gave you the inspiration to do this?

"I realized in being an advisor to Sigma Gamma Rho (2016-2020) on campus, that many of the members did not know how or have the funds to prepare for career fairs, as well as on-campus and digital interviews. My EDCI 1001 students had a similar issue, including for our in-class presentations. I reached out to alumna members of my sorority and asked them to donate any formal attire they and their family members outgrew. Most of the clothing came from them, but a few past professors and graduates have added to the collection as well."

The Olinde Career Center agreed to house the Closet. What does the partnership with the Olinde Career Center mean to you and your mission?

"I am proud to say I have always held specialized roles focusing on advocacy and inclusion, particularly in student wellness. From the earliest days of my undergraduate career, I realized the essentiality of student communication with administrators for their success. I have brought Olinde representatives to class several times to walk students through the services they offer, and I offer class credits for utilizing their services. It was a pleasure to work with Blake to get this initiative started. I would like to highlight the ICC for being a bridge between us. As a graduate student, I took advantage of their joint initiative with JCPenney’s “Suit Up” events to stock my closet for interview attire; some of those items were donated to the Center. Preparing a resume, taking and analyzing career and personality assessments, and creating a Handshake account are all ways students can prepare for their futures; I am grateful to use EDCI 1001 as a bridge to all the resources LSU offers; it just takes self-advocacy work and knowing where to look for assistance!"

How will this Career Closet help LSU students? What are you most excited about?

"It has been a pleasure helping students move forward in their professional careers for more than five years, but it is time I reclaim my office! Our domestic and international courses relocated 14 bags and two boxes of dresses, blazers, suits, ties, and formal shoes from my office to the Career Center; this is a part of the service component I have written into the syllabus, and it gives students an opportunity to add to their resume. In addition to helping scholars with clothing, my EDCI course covers how to write an elevator pitch, add a professional signature to emails, and creating a personal statement. By the time former students begin interviewing, I usually get formal email requests for recommendations and to serve as a reference; I can cite this work when contacted. The most fulfilling part of my work has been helping several students get into graduate and professional schools, and into their first post-collegiate positions."

Students donating to the Career ClosetTell us more about you!

"I am a researcher and adjunct professor of Education at Louisiana State University; I also taught within the Department of African and African American Studies at LSU and co-led the premier #BlackLivesMatter course in the Spring of 2017, which focused on the history and current events surrounding racial discrimination and violence. I have co-taught Workplace Counseling with Dr. Jennifer Curry. I am on an extended contract to teach with LSU Global and served as faculty for the summer bridge program for conditional first-year admits for two summers under Dr. Jose Aviles. I am the former editor of Geaux Higher Magazine, the research magazine of LSU's School of Education; the past HESPA PhD Representative; and the immediate past advisor for Sigma Gamma Rho, Gamma Pi Chapter. Recruited to graduate admissions by long-term director Neil Mathews, I co-led the promotional and onboarding processes of Master's, doctoral, and certificate scholars from 2017-2020 as a Data Analyst GA." 

Epps is an Election Commissioner-in-Charge, a Savvy Fellow, a Leaders of Color 2023 Fellow, the Parliamentarian-elect for Urban League Young Professionals - Louisiana, and sat on the Board of Directors for the Baton Rouge-based The Walls Project (2019-2023). She is a researcher within the Advisory Committee to Provide Recommendations and Guiding Principles Regarding the Renaming or Honorary Designation of Certain Public Streets (East Baton Rouge Metro Council). Epps has presented research in multiple arenas, including the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE) Annual Conference, the Louisiana Queer Conference (LAQC), the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) International Conference, the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE), Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA), as well as speaking engagements at colleges nationwide.

If you want to donate to the Career Closet, contact the Olinde Career Center.

Email: career@lsu.edu      
Phone: 225-578-2162 
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.