Etiquette 101 for College Students

Dec 17, 2010 2:01pm

ABC News on Campus reporter Chelsea Smith blogs: Your degree is just weeks away, the end of college is in sight, and you’re being taken out for lunch by a potential employer. You’re worried, but not about your future — about the soup you’d rather not slurp noisily or spill on your freshly ironed shirt. Above: Students learn the "B and D" tip from etiquette instructor Kitty McGrath. To avoid accidentally using somebody else's glass of water or bread plate, students formed a B with their left hand and a D with their right to demonstrate that the bread plate is on the left and their water glass is on the right. There may be a solution for you: Arizona State University, Brown, Colorado State and Georgia State have instituted the “etiquette dinner.” Last month in downtown Phoenix, 100 students and a few faculty members gathered at the Hyatt Regency for a three-course dinner to learn manners that should serve them well in the future. Before the students received their first course (a cup of soup) etiquette instructor Kitty McGrath demonstrated the proper way to use a soup spoon. “Some employers are conducting interviews over lunch or dinner,” Cindy Parnell, assistant director of ASU career services, told “Having an interview over a meal, outside of the typical office environment, is something unusual for students, or for anyone looking for a job.” Faraaz Zaman, a senior at ASU, has an interdisciplinary major, and in order to graduate, he has to complete an internship. “A lot of the people we interview with we may eventually share a meal with,” Zaman said. “Frankly, I want to make sure that I don't make a fool of myself when that happens.” The ASU event started with Kitty McGrath, who’s retired now but was executive director of ASU’s career services. She opens up the dinner with how important etiquette is. “Failing to use generally accepted standards of behavior/etiquette can result in embarrassing one's employer in the eyes of clients,” McGrath said. “This is an obvious no-no.” McGrath went over everything from how to properly pass the salt and pepper shakers to how to hold your knife and fork. “Who knew that if someone asks for some salt, you need to hand them both the salt and pepper, Zaman said, “and when to properly put your napkin on your lap— who would've known that?” With the first course — a cup of tomato soup and a basket of rolls — students learned how to correctly scoop the soup out of the bowl with a spoon and that the break basket ought to be passed to one’s right. Then came the main course — lemon grass chicken (or a vegetarian entrée), potatoes and vegetables – and a slice of cheesecake for dessert. When the meal ended, students learned to put their knife and fork face down at the 10:00 o’clock position on their plate to let the server know they were finished. Looking back on the dinner, Rudy Rivas, an ASU junior, said that he used the etiquette tips at a recent conference. “When I went to LA for the conference and had to talk and eat at the same time with professionals I could be working with in the future or getting a job from, I wanted to make a good impression,” Rivas said. “I remembered what they told me at the etiquette dinner, that it's not about eating, rather more about the conversation.”

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