When students eat in Mary Jemison Dining Hall, they might not think twice about someone who eats with his mouth open or obtrusively belches during a conversation. These kinds of behaviors, however, are considered highly improper in the professional realm.
On Tuesday, the Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development program, Student Association and Geneseo Alumni Association sponsored the fifth annual Dinner Etiquette for Business & Social Settings event in the Union Ballroom. Sixty students attended, ranging from business majors and G.O.L.D. certificate-seekers to students who simply wanted to learn some proper table manners.
Several Geneseo alumni and distinguished guests helped organize the event and were on hand to give students some company and a chance to practice networking skills. Bruno Lombardo, a Geneseo alumnus representing PricewaterhouseCoopers, kicked off the dinner with some helpful networking tips like standard conversation starters, a handshake tutorial and advice on how to introduce peers at a business dinner.
Jonna Anne, the executive chef of Campus Auxiliary Services, continued the presentation with information on table manners. Common faux pas at the dinner table include resting elbows on the table and ordering alcohol during a professional meal, Anne said. Anne answered many questions while guests ate; topics ranged from situations involving getting food stuck in your teeth and unfortunate pieces of bone to handling the tip on the bill. The etiquette was taught in a way that was easy to learn and never daunting, which is how many perceive etiquette instruction to be.
Networking comprised another aspect of the dinner. Conversations flowed at each table as students talked with their professional dinner partners about a variety of topics.
"It's great to know how to eat and how to act in these kinds of situations," said senior Jenifer Coffie. "Students don't really have much exposure to the way we should act in public."
"I've been doing this for a number of years," said the Kerrie Bondi, the event's organizer and a senior career planning associate with Geneseo's career services department. "My goal is for the students to take away three or four things, one of them being how to conduct themselves professionally. Even I can still pull something different away from the event each time!"
This dinner felt like one of Geneseo's many best-kept secrets. With helpful tips, great food and intelligent company, the dinner was a marked success for the fifth year in a row. Now attendees are all credited with these tasks: remember to place your napkin in your laps, avoid slurping your soup and keep from texting at the table.