Eating etiquette 101

Students and staff at the 2017 Etiquette Dinner.

When you sit down at a table to eat with a prospective employer, where do you put your elbows? When do you start eating? Who pays the bill? And why are there so many forks?

Many students leave their post-secondary education with the knowledge they paid for but there is something they may have missed out on: etiquette skills.

That’s why backpack2Briefcase (b2B), a program at DC designed to help alumni make a “smooth” transition in to the workplace after college, hosts the etiquette dinner twice a year.

“The program is designed to complement students [and] what they’re learning in school, and help prepare them for the workforce,” says Lisa McInerney, Manager, Alumni Engagement.

This event is one piece of the b2B program. The etiquette dinner allows students to enjoy a three-course meal and learn the do’s and the don’ts of table manners.

“[It teaches] what is expected of people when they come into the workforce, but are not taught in the classroom,” McInerney says.

She says there are simple things students need to know, like which fork to use, who pays the bill, which side of your body you put your name tag on.

“It’s simple things like that, that can really make the difference, in how you present yourself,” says McInerney.

The dinner also touches on how to carry yourself through your professional careers.

“First impressions are everything and I believe that you may put people off by having poor etiquette, without even meaning to. I think it gives people an extra edge when going into an interview or even once they get a job,” McInerney says.

Poor etiquette like, starting your meal before everyone else has received their dish, or leaving your elbows on the table.

The first etiquette dinner this year takes place on Nov. 19th and a second one in the spring on Mar. 25th. The events run 6 p.m to 9 p.m and tickets are $20 but the meal is valued at $40.

“[The price] is supplemented by the Durham College Alumni Association. So the DCAA pays for half of everybody’s ticket. They see the value of students having these skills before they get out of school and into the workforce,” says McInerney.

She says the event will give students an extra edge and is “crucial” to students’ development from college into their careers.

“It is a really fun event, you’ll learn a lot. It’s something that people come back to every time we host one even though they’ve been before,” McInerney says. “So there’s lots to learn and I think regardless of what program you’re in, it’s important to have proper etiquette because first impressions do matter.”