by jamesc 2/7/2014 1:22:30 PM --
NORFOLK – You may not have two spoons, two knives and three forks at each place setting at your dinner table at home on any given evening, but knowing how and when to use those extra utensils during a formal dinner occasion could avoid an embarrassing scene when trying to impress others. Over 100 students and others at Northeast Community College had the opportunity recently to put their formal social skills to use during an etiquette dinner at the College’s Lifelong Learning Center.
Terri Heggemeyer, director of career services at Northeast, said the etiquette dinner began in 2013 after she had conversations with some instructors and campus leadership student groups. She said that proper dining etiquette is an important component that students need to know when they are in a formal dinner setting.
“Last year was our first year of hosting the event and we hit our reservation limit of 90 people. After the program, we heard so many favorable remarks about how much everyone learned while having fun at the same time. We knew we had to offer the program again this year.”
Heggemeyer said the popularity of the dinner led organizers to increase seating capacity to 110 this year. Although the number was up, there was still a waiting list. “We are considering doing more than one etiquette dinner next year.”
Heggemeyer and Administrative Assistant Amy Koehler assist students in determining what steps they need to take in planning and achieving their career goals. The Northeast Career Services Office offers a variety of services and programs to assist with career development, job searches, and employment needs of students and alumni.
“The etiquette dinner is designed to enhance our student’s communication skills and give them a refresher on proper dining etiquette,” Heggemeyer said. “Every interaction, whether formal or informal, requires communication skills. Etiquette, in my mind, is doing what is proper and polite in any particular situation.”
Designed as a formal event, the Northeast Community College Etiquette Dinner begins with a networking session where students mingle and communicate with fellow students and College faculty and staff. Following this social time, guests are seated and are then served a four-course meal. Chartwells, the food service provider at the College, prepares and serves the meal.
Heggemeyer said while guests are dining, they are instructed on proper etiquette and how to converse with others at each table. “We discuss how and when to use all the dinnerware at the table setting, as well as overcoming other challenging dining situations. We also learn the proper technique on introductions, with additional tips on interviewing skills.”
Christina Fielder, of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Arts and Sciences, was back again this year to offer dining etiquette and networking advice to those in attendance. She has been providing professional etiquette and networking training for over 13 years.
Northeast students Aaron Christensen, Columbus, and Josi Bradfield, Beemer, attended last year’s dinner and were back for this year’s gathering. “As a business administration student, there isn’t a class that teaches you how to behave at dinner,” said Christensen. “The things I have learned here will actually be quite important to know in the business world.”
Bradfield concurred. “It is important to make a good impression when you are meeting important people for dinner,” said the elementary education major. “It’s a good experience and I would recommend that other students come to the etiquette dinner when it is held again.”
Heggemeyer said the etiquette dinner will pay dividends to those who attend. “I think if a person is polite and has good manners, they will make a great impression on others, whether it is a personal or professional relationship. Our manners and behaviors are essential to our success. The person who has good manners will stand out and be noticed in a positive light. They make others feel comfortable and respected,” she said. “Good etiquette shows that we care about ourselves and how we represent ourselves. And in turn, we are showing that we are thinking of others.”
Bob Noonan, an agriculture instructor at Northeast Community College, visits with Ben Temple, Norfolk
, at the College’s recent Etiquette Dinner at the Lifelong Learning Center. The over 100 students, faculty and staff who attended the dinner were served a four-course meal and learned the proper way to dine and converse with others in a formal setting. The Etiquette Dinner is sponsored by Northeast’s Career Services Office.