Students practice manners at annual business dinner

By Lindsey Simon

Students filled the Paddock Room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel last night to meet future employers and to learn the appropriate way to act in a professional setting.

More than 75 students and 20 Lexington employers attended the annual Gatton Etiquette Dinner. The occasion gave students a chance to grow comfortable with interacting in a social business setting and to make a positive impression on prospective employers, said Azetta Williams, assistant director at the James W. Stuckert Career Center, which also helped plan the event.

“You need to know how to carry yourself in a business setting,” Williams said. “The students that stand out are the ones that do follow-ups.”

Each table was set up so students could sit with employers in their area of interest. The dinner not only taught proper business and dining etiquette but also allowed the students to show off their networking skills.

“When you’re in a professional situation, it’s important to have good skills so you can present yourself well,” said Ashley Jones, an employer for the CGI Group.

Organizers suggested eating at a similar pace to the people at the table, using utensils from the outside of the setting to the inside, being polite in conversation and avoiding topics like religion and politics.

“A lot of the tips they give I think I knew, but they weren’t things I’d ever think to worry about when out to dinner,” said Alex Thompson, a business junior who attended the event. “Like how fast to eat. I never thought I’d get or lose a job over how fast I stuff my face.”

The annual event was the end of the Professionalism Series, workshops put on by the Gatton College of Business, Williams said. Five to eight workshops are put on each semester including lessons that teach important business skills like networking, dressing in business attire and creating resumes. The etiquette dinner is one of the most popular workshops, Williams said.

“This is the yearlong wrap-up of the Gatton Business Series and is an encouragement for the students to attend the other workshops,” Williams said.

The dinner had 25 more students and five more local employers attend this year’s dinner than last year. Students who attended said the dinner helped them feel more comfortable around people they could work with.

“I think there’s always that level of nervousness when you sit down to dinner or in the office of a future employer,” Thompson said. “But with enough practice, hopefully I’ll remember where to place my fork at the end of my meal and I’ll be able to focus on what we talk about instead of what I’m doing.”