Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 18, 2016


Students Minding Manners At Manchester

Destinee Boutwell

Manchester students, faculty, staff, alumni and guests gathered in the upper Jo Young Switzer Center for the What the Fork? etiquette dinner on Sunday, November 16. They met to learn about dining etiquette, interviewing skills and networking with confidence. 

The upper JYSC was alive with activity and conversation as people dressed in business-casual attire mingled. As soon as students walked in the door, they were challenged to begin networking with the faculty, staff, alumni and guests that were there to assist with the dinner. Once everyone had arrived, guest speaker Allie Kreager offered a piece of advice to help relieve the awkwardness of meeting new people. “Before I go into a networking situation, I always set goals for myself,” she said. “For example, I tell myself I am going to meet two new people or I am going to present my company to one investor.”

With this tip in mind, the chatter and conversation in the room grew to an excited buzz. After half an hour of introductions and small talk, everyone was moved into the formal dining area. As the first course was served, the guest speaker gave pointers on dining etiquette and interviewing skills. Morgan Monnin learned that cutting up the food all at one time gives the impression that you are preparing to feed a child. “I also learned that, when you go in for a job interview, you are being watched from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave,” she said. “If a potential employer invites you out to lunch, the interview is not over.”

Madi Kaylor was another student in attendance. “I learned that everything is passed counterclockwise around the table,” she said. “From the bread basket to the salt and pepper, you always want to pass everything to the person on your right hand side.” 

The most interesting thing Shelby Bagby learned was that the salt and pepper are always passed together, even if a person only asks for one of them. 

Indeed, the dinner was all about learning. Each table had a professional who was placed there to help give instructions on etiquette, to answer questions and to maintain comfort and formality within the table’s conversation. “My table mentor was full of knowledge and advice,” Kaylor said. “I think that the hardest part of the night was trying to pay attention and retain all of the super helpful things she told us.” 

Other students thought that networking and socializing was the most difficult part. “It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone,” Bagby remarked. “They were encouraging us to be ourselves but still maintain a professional composure. I felt so out of sorts because being professional felt so foreign to me. It was hard to remember to also relax and be myself.” 

All three women were glad they went. “I learned a lot from this experience,” Monnin said. “I am not 100 percent positive that I feel comfortable enough to network and attend professional social gatherings in the real world, but I left a little more confident than I went in. Therefore, attending the etiquette dinner was worth it for me.” 

Bagby appreciated the practice with professional dining. “I enjoyed the exposure,” she said. “I am glad that Manchester provides experiences like tonight’s dinner to help students prepare themselves to be successful. I would recommend that everyone attend the dinner if the chance ever comes again. You learn so much… and practice has never hurt anyone.”