By Brooke Chatterton
“The etiquette dinner is a free four-course meal we offer annually to bring to campus a really dynamic and entertaining speaker who talks about business dining and networking etiquette,” Alexandra Anderson, Associate Director of Career Services, said.
Career Services has partnered with etiquette expert Diane Gottsman for over ten years now to put on the dinner. Gottsman founded and now runs the Protocol School in San Antonio, and also travels, speaking to the media to share her advice.
“Most people will be evaluated over the course of their life many times while eating, and the presentation gives you a lot of tips for how to do so in the most professional manner,” Anderson said. “[This way] you can concentrate on what you have to say, and not on how you are trying to eat, or where to put your purse or your napkin, or whether you should button your jacket or what you should do if you take a bite into something you do not want to swallow.”
Students learn the dining basics as well as the intricacies of how to act. Students are also allotted time to ask any questions they have to Gottsman.
“I think a lot of the stuff you learn is unexpected,” Anderson said. “One year we talked about hugging–how to hug professionally. It was a question students had: ‘We know about handshakes in a professional context, but you know what happens when you kind of know this person and you maybe know them socially as well, what do you do? Is hugging ok? If so, how?’ And that was pretty unexpected and interesting.”
Career Services is also offering a multitude of other programs this semester. On Oct.10, Career Services hosted the Careers in Nonprofit Panel, with alumni and other professionals working in different roles in nonprofit. Following the etiquette dinner, Career Services will have more speakers on the topic of Careers in Art.
“We have a landscape architect coming up on Oct. 19, the Friday just following the etiquette dinner,” Anderson said.
On Oct. 23 Career Services will also host a professional potter and alumnus Brian Burkhardt who owns Hill Country Pottery, LLC, in Comfort, TX . Other speakers will be featured later in November.
“We will have a few more graduate and professional school events as the semester winds down, including an in-depth presentation on the medical school application process on Nov. 5, a Monday,” Anderson said. “An alumnus who works at the health science center in San Antonio will present with her colleague.”
Students may also seek advice from Career Services on a variety of different career development, internship, and academic advising topics.
“In addition to exposing students to lots of different careers by bringing in speakers at our Careers in Nonprofit Panel, for example, we teach a lot of the nuts-and-bolts skills such as business dining etiquette, resume writing, etc., that we work with students on all the time,” Anderson said.
Sophomore Joana Moreno, has worked with Career Services on such things.
“If it hadn’t been for the great advice and guidance at Career Services, I wouldn’t have such a great internship and awesome looking resume,” Moreno said.
Their staff of four includes: Director Roger Young, Internship Coordinator Maria Kruger, Associate Director Alexandra Anderson, and Office Coordinator Dana Luna.
“Our big message every time we have the opportunity to work with students is that we just want to help you come up with a plan for what you are going to do next,” Anderson said. “Not necessarily answer the forever question–that is a big one to try to tackle while you are in college-but to help you be confident and successful in that transition back out of Southwestern. We think the way to do that is to work with us a little bit of time each semester along the way so that it’s not this big overwhelming task at the end.”