What used to be has now changed into potentially having an interview in a dining setting full of pitfalls that could make a job seeker look unprofessional.
Phi Chi Theta, a co-ed professional business fraternity on campus, held its first semi-annual etiquette dinner where about 65 students attended to learn how to act proper in a formal dining setting.
“It’s the first networking etiquette dinner we’ve ever held on campus,” said Alexa Gentile, the director of Professionalism and a Clarkston senior.
With the help of Career Services, which has held the etiquette dinner in the past, this was the first year Phi Chi Theta added the networking aspect.
The fraternity wanted a way to become more well-known and impact students in a positive way. The event began with a panel of eight different sales and insurance companies explaining what each is about and what internship and entry-level job opportunities are available.
“We wanted to supply students with materials and tools, which included questions to ask the employers,” said Kirsten Rothe, the Phi Chi Theta president and a Leonard senior. “We wanted to help them get involved since it can sometimes be uncomfortable approaching someone.”
Companies in attendance included Auto-Owner’s Insurance, Brown and Brown Insurance, National Agents Alliance, Prudential Financial Inc., Thomson Reuters, Merrill Lynch, Northwestern Mutual and Aramark.
Jeff Wood, the Merrill Lynch representative and former Phi Chi Theta member, said it’s important to find a job you love.
“Why would you want to wake up hating work?” he asked during the panel.
Jeremiah LaRue, the Thomas Reuters representative, said the companies presented in the panel are not just for business majors. He said as long as students can communicate, problem-solve and troubleshoot, they can apply for a position within their desired company.
After the panel was a networking mixer, which allowed students to talk with the different representatives for each company on a more personal level.
The final part of the event was the etiquette dinner, where students learned the appropriate way to act at a table and basic proper etiquette. Tips included the six commandments of using a napkin, proper ways to eat soup and bread rolls and the difference between American and European styles of dining.
Clarkston senior Lucas White said he attended the event to learn how to be professional in a dinner setting.
“That’s where most sales happen,” White said, “and I think what makes good etiquette valuable is being respectful and being able to communicate.”