Knowing the proper fork to use, the correct way to pass a basket of rolls, or which entrée to order can sometimes make a difference when trying to land a new job.
For the past sixteen years, Bridgewater State University has offered an etiquette dinner to teach students manners appropriate to a professional setting, particularly if they find themselves sitting down to break bread with someone they’re trying to impress.
The event, hosted by BSU Career Services, includes a free, four-course meal and fills up quickly every year, with a waitlist to boot.
The experience helps students shed their reservations about what can be a high-pressure situation.
“The majority of the students that participate in this program really walk away learning something new, whether it be what fork to use, what knife to use, how to engage in conversations with professionals, how to network, really how to present themselves,” said Katie Vagen, BSU Career Services assistant director. “This is a program that we run year-to-year because students continually like to attend,”
More than 50 students registered for this year’s etiquette dinner to learn about place settings, how to use a spoon when eating a bowl of soup (hint, don’t slurp), the importance of solid handshake, and that a cloth napkin should never, under any circumstance, be used as a tissue.
A group of alumni were also present, each positioned at a table where they networked and talked with students.
As an undergraduate six years ago, Stephen Wahome, ’13, attended the event and said the information he gained has remained applicable.
“In my line of work as a financial advisor a lot of meetings are done to make the client feel comfortable, so a meeting may be held in a house, a coffee shop, or at a big dinner,” Wahome said. “It’s always good to present yourself in the right light. How to use a fork or the proper etiquette at a formal event is good to know.”
While the free dinner was certainly a motivator to register, Madalyn Maloney, ’19, said she was also excited to learn.
“I believe manners are very important,” she said. “It makes a difference when you are talking to someone.”
For BSU to offer opportunities like this is exciting, added Beyonnie Whitaker, ’22.
“I personally feel that etiquette is a dying art because this generation doesn’t take manners very seriously,” she said. “I feel we need to learn manners because most of our interviews will be with someone older, that you need to respect.”
Instilling confidence in students so they can find success is why BSU continues to offer the dinner.
“Students really learn what to expect, how to prepare, and how to succeed,” Vagen said. “It allows them to move forward after Bridgewater with that confidence right in their back pocket.”
Or, in a doggie bag.
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