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Nov. 24, 2017
First-year students in Northwest Missouri State University’s living and academic learning communities put their table manners to practice last week when Career Services hosted an etiquette dinner.
The students dressed professionally for the dinner in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom and sat at formally decorated round tables. Silverware clinked gently on plates as the students were treated to a three-course meal prepared by Campus Dining that included a wedge salad, Romano chicken with lemon sage cream, garlic mashed potatoes, Italian green beans with red pepper, and triple layer chocolate pie.
While the students dined, Career Services Director Joan Schneider and Renee Riedel, career development coordinator for employer relations, paced the room, quizzing the students about dining etiquette and offering tips about everything from which way to pass items around a table and how to pour sweetener into their tea to how they should place their utensils when they finished eating and what to do with leftover food.
They talked about dining etiquette in a variety of settings, too – from a dinner party at one’s home to an airplane during business travel. Schneider and Riedel also addressed the ins and outs of bringing gifts for a dinner host.
While the dinner was designed to be a fun learning experience for participants, Schneider said she hopes the students also gained an understanding that social etiquette is systemic to professionalism.
“Manners are important,” she said. “When you understand the rules of the game, you can concentrate on the purpose of the gathering. Candidates are frequently invited to social events, including receptions and dinners, as a step of the selection process. Employers are drawn to candidates who are prepared both professionally and socially – the whole package.”
Riley Ensz, a residential assistant for the School of Education’s academic learning community and junior elementary education major from Beatrice, Nebraska, participated in the etiquette dinner and said she was surprised by how much she didn’t know when it came to professional dining.
“If students were aware of what took place at an etiquette dinner, I think any of them who cared about their future careers would attend,” Ensz said. “You never know when you need to use those skills, and it is much better to be over-prepared than have no idea what is going on. I am comforted that I learned these dining skills and feel prepared to use them in whatever setting that my job may or may not call for.”
Rachel Nash, an education student from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, said she participated in the dinner to help her be better prepared as a future teacher who may interact with students’ parents as well as her future employer in a formal dining setting. She said the etiquette dinner was an enlightening experience.
“It is an educational experience without having to listen to a lecture,” Nash said. “You are able to actually follow along with the things that need to happen. In the future, I may need to connect with employers, and knowing dinner etiquette and the other types of etiquette we spoke about at the dinner can be very useful.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468