Mind Your Manners: Etiquette Dinner

Created by: Ashley Pinney, 2011-2012 Career Counseling Fellow

It’s interview day. You’re looking polished in your suit or dress. Your socks match, your clothes are ironed, and your portfolio is in hand. After you amaze your potential employer with your stellar answers, she or he wants to continue the interview over lunch. Suddenly, fear grips you. The thought of bread plates, forks with different sized tongs, and what to order so nothing gets stuck in your teeth overwhelms you.

But wait!

You begin to breathe normally again as you start to remember all the etiquette pointers Pam Brumbaugh of Elon Career Services taught you.  Pam has been helping quell the etiquette fears of Elon students  for decades.

Pam addressing the group

On August 16th, I observed an etiquette dinner Pam conducted for the lead orientation staff. There were sixteen students in attendance (mostly juniors and seniors). Throughout the dinner, Pam addressed the most commonly asked questions when it comes to formal meals. They are:

  1. On which side do I wear my nametag?
  2. Who should sit down first?
  3. When should I start eating?
  4. What do I do with my napkin?
  5. Which utensil do I use first? What if I drop my fork?
  6. Which glass/salad plate is mind?
  7. What do I do with my hands and elbows?
  8. How do I signal the wait staff that I’m finished with my plate?
  9. What do I do when I don’t want to swallow something, like an olive pit or gristle?
  10. What do I do if I get something stuck in my teeth?
  11. Should I order an alcoholic beverage?
  12. What do I do when the check comes?

Students were really engaged and came up with a myriad of great questions themselves like, where should I place my napkin when I get up to use the restroom? How does Southern culture affect table etiquette?

Orientation staff

Etiquette dinners are a popular request among student groups on campus. They are not only informative, but fun and serve as a great way to help students prepare for possible interview situations.

All students were given information to take home with them
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Author: Ashley Pinney

I am a Career Counseling Fellow at Elon University. The position is a post-graduate fellowship with an emphasis on providing career counseling services to students through individual meetings and co-facilitation of transition classes, as well as collaborating with residence life to develop career-related programing.

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