Mock Formal Dinner Teaches Social Skills
Etiquette expert Ann Marie Sabath, president and founder of At Ease Inc., a New York City-based business protocol and social skills training firm, spent an evening putting students through the paces of a mock formal dinner and cocktail party on October 22.
The evening offered undergraduate students from all of Fairfield’s schools lessons in professional interaction, presentation, personal style, mixing, and mingling. Along the way, Sabath selected some students to role-play tricky business and formal situations.
The event is part of the Professional Development Series (PDS) at Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business to make students career ready. “The Professional Development Series is designed to work in conjunction with a student’s academic coursework to provide all of the professional tools they will need to succeed in the business world,” said Tara Berwick, director of internships in the Dolan School.
“The PDS is composed of four levels, with programs and objectives meant to build on one another as students become savvier about their career aspirations. The Business Etiquette Dinner is one of the culminating programs of the series, since it provides a competitive edge to attendees by teaching them how to avoid many common etiquette pitfalls that job candidates make when networking, interviewing, and dining with prospective employers,” Berwick said.
The evening’s agenda included topics such as “What are the first three words you use when speaking to recruiters; How to establish instant rapport with recruiters and interviewers; Professional presence for men and women; When you should pen a thank you note vs. email one; Smart phone courtesy; How to have the last word even when you are not offered the job; and Words to delete from your vocabulary.
Shane Tarca ’15, an accounting and information systems major, said that he left with many good tips from the evening. “I learned not only how to start a conversation in an awkward situation, but how to leave one as well,” he said. “This event definitely helped enhance our soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, which today, are just as important as academic skills.”
Dr. Donald Gibson, dean of the Dolan School of Business, said the seminar helps prepare students for internships and their careers. “In this increasingly competitive job market, we see it as vital to provide students with lessons in interpersonal and social skills,” he said. “A skill set in professional interaction skills and diplomacy can make or break a job interview, and are key to every business leader’s career growth.”