Networking and Etiquette Dinner Prepares Students for Success

Landing your first job out of college can be challenging. But a networking and etiquette dinner held on March 16, 2016, will help to ensure that Meredith students succeed by giving them real-life experience in a business-like setting. At the dinner, students practiced important skills such as shaking hands, starting (and ending) conversations, introducing themselves, and managing a formal dining situation. And with a number of employers from top local companies represented, it was also a very real opportunity to land a coveted job or internship.

Meredith’s Office of Career Planning partnered with the School of Business and the Department of Communication to host the event, which included approximately 90 students and 15 professionals from area companies, faculty, and staff. Credit Suisse was the employer sponsor of the networking dinner.

The evening, held in the recently-renovated Belk Dining Hall, began with a "cocktail" hour that had students mingling, introducing themselves to others, and having conversations with professionals while balancing appetizers and a drink.

While some students were unsure of this one-hour mingling session, many were excited to gain experiences with “real world” professionals who had an insider’s view of a potential career field.

Sana Aftab, ’16, a biology major, was hopeful about what she could learn from the unique experience.

“I think it is a good idea to learn proper etiquette. It’s something that we [as students] don’t know too well, and you never want to be awkward in a professional situation like this,” said Aftab.

Katie Peterssen, assistant director of career development, facilitated the event, sharing her expertise in dining and business etiquette throughout the evening.

“Etiquette is really about making people feel comfortable,” said Peterssen. “Ninety percent of this is common sense.”

Students said they attended the event for a variety of reasons. Some were hoping to find internships, while others wanted to practice networking and learn how to behave properly in a more formal setting.

Other students, like psychology major Michelle Garcia, ’16, had no idea what to expect of the evening.

“The ‘cocktail’ hour was nerve-wracking, honestly,” Garcia laughed. “I am looking forward to using these new skills, though. I loved learning how to eat properly.”

Among the professionals present was LaFonda Richburg, a product development lead for IBM. She said she was there to encourage young women who are just starting out professionally.

“I’m here to listen, and I hope to offer some inspiration. Really, though, the greatest inspiration exists within them,” said Richburg.

She also provided some very practical advice for senior Sarah Haseeb, ’16, a computer science and mathematics major who is wondering whether to attend graduate school or go straight to the workforce.

“Ms. Richburg gave me great information. She talked to me very specifically about the different options and what qualifications I would need,” said Haseeb.

Melissa Sincebaugh, a recruiter with the N.C. Department of Revenue, was hoping to hire a graduating senior or two.

“We’re looking for accounting majors,” said Sincebaugh. “We have hired Meredith alumnae in the past and have had a great experience.”

Charlynn Ross, adjunct professor of communication at Meredith, said she was pleased by the students’ professionalism.

“Just look around the room. These women are professionally dressed, they’re making eye contact, their nonverbal cues are great – they’re definitely putting their best foot forward.”

By Lillian Redding, ’16, and Gaye Hill

Learn more about the Office of Career Planning

Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330