On the evening of May 10 the Union College Alumni Council and the Stanley R. Becker Career Center co sponsored the Business Dining Etiquette event at College Park Hall from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
The event was attended by 98 Union students of all class years as well as eleven alumni from the Capital Region. Staff members from the Stanley R. Becker Career Center and the Alumni Council were also in attendance. Before the event, Pete Fowler, Associate Director of the Stanley R. Becker Career Center stated that, “with alumni in attendance, students will have the opportunity to engage in some light networking over a meal gaining potentially valuable insights”
The presenter for the event was Robert Shutt, an adjunct professor at the Binghamton Graduate School of Management and etiquette educator and presenter at the etiquette education firm RASolution.net. In order to practice professional dining mannerisms, a full four-course meal was provided to participants.
Shutt began the program with a real life example of how dining etiquette helped him in a job interview with Sage College. Shutt applied to be the Director of Dining Services and was competing against 15 other candidates. All the of the prospective employees were taken out to dinner by the President of Sage College, Dr. Susan Scrimshaw. Out of the 15, Shutt was chosen because he displayed the right etiquette simply by “respecting the college president’s title.”
“The thing that separated me from the other candidates is that I didn’t treat it as a date – I didn’t pull her chair out for her and I made sure to let her pay because she was hosting me,” Shutt stated. Shutt simplified dining etiquette into a few essential key points. The points were as follows:
First point is to always follow the leader. The group must designate someone to be the leader so that they can follow his or her cue when it comes to placing a napkin on your lap to beginning to eat an entree. This also helps keep the pace of the table.
Second point is to perform proper dining etiquette is to help make lasting first impressions. As Shutt stated in his presentation on the purpose of dining etiquette, “It’s about relationships; it’s not about the food.”
Next on the agenda was learning how to properly use the utensils at your disposal. Forks and napkins were placed on the left side of the plate while spoons, drinking glasses and knives were placed on the right side. As an individual ate through their appetizer, salad, entree and dessert they used their utensils going inward, starting from the far left and right on each side. Shutt defined the proper use of utensils as a way of ‘negotiating the table’.
Throughout the presentation a recurring point that Shutt talked about was the efficient use of “table talk.” The leader of the table was required to initiate the topics discussed at the dinner table and it was deemed important to include everyone in the conversation.
At the end of the program Shutt commented on what he hoped participants learned, “Manners matter and courtesies count – 85 percent of your success comes from your interpersonal skills.”
Marna Redding, Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement agreed with Shutt by stating that, “The opportunity for our students to learn etiquette skills that will stay with them forever, just as Union will remain with our students forever.”
Union students had similar input as well, such as Katherine Muzzey ’19 who said, “It’s awesome to learn proper etiquette and I’m eager to apply these skills early on and throughout my career.” John Perrotti ’17 claimed, “This event is always informative – one of the career center’s best events.”