The fine china was set, bread was placed and water was poured. On Tuesday, Ramapo College students attended the annual Etiquette Dinner hosted by the Cahill Career Development Center and cosponsored by the Third Year Engagement Board, CSI, Ramapo Society of Human Resource Professionals and the Professional Fraternity Council. Etiquette expert Theresa Salameno, of Manners Matter, taught students social dining etiquette and allowed them to practice proper business dining and how to network.
The dinner began with introductions and small talk to break the ice before students moved to their tables to begin the four-course meal. Prior to the service of the first course, students were asked to rearrange their own place settings according to the menu. Each student had a specific role according to their place card which Salameno later explained was part of the seating protocol. During the dinner, Salameno offered detailed advice on how to adhere to professional etiquette when faced with different types of food according to diverse types of dining situations.
The purpose of the event was to help students prepare for job and graduate school interviews, conferences and other professional occasions that involved food. Students had the opportunity to practice how to properly take their seat at the dining table and how to deliver the perfect handshake.
Students said they attended the event for a variety of reasons. Some were hoping to be more comfortable in a dining environment, while others wanted to learn how to practice networking and how to behave properly in a formal setting. Other students like sophomore Savanna Klien, a nursing major, were not sure what to expect of the evening.
“I am hoping to learn how to network with people I don’t know at any event comfortably and confidently,” she stated.
Debra Stark, assistant director and career advisor in the Cahill Center, organized the event and was impressed by the students and their eagerness to learn.
“They did great, I received great feedback and I saw the speaker go table to table interacting with the students and answering their questions. Securing a speaker and constructing a menu that was both challenging to eat and delicious for the students was very important for the event,” she stated.
At the end of the event, students left satisfied with everything they learned regarding which fork to grab, how to properly drink water and what to do during any given dining situation dealing with real people.
Andrea Alfaro, a sophomore marketing major, stated, “Everything was so new to me. I learned a lot about how to interact with other people in a professional environment, especially with food present.”