Meredith College students and working professionals gathered in the Royal Conference and Banquet Center on Monday, February 18, for a network and etiquette event sponsored by the Office of Career Planning (OCP). This event gave students an opportunity to develop networking skills and learn proper etiquette techniques.
Katie Peterssen, assistant director of career development, is thankful that the students are able to receive this experience. “The purpose of networking is to discover the ‘hidden job market,’ where job vacancies are often filled before they are posted online,” Peterssen said. “It is our mission in Career Planning to help students prepare for a lifetime of career satisfaction and learning how to network effectively is an essential skill.”
Prior to the event, OCP sent an email to students detailing different outfits to wear with pictures, inexpensive places to shop, networking tips, and conversation starters.
Before dinner, students and professionals had to the opportunity to mingle in a friendly environment where encouraging feedback was given. Students were given advice on ways to ask questions and how to present themselves to future professionals. Some examples were to be eloquent with the phrasing of one’s questions, to make consistent eye contact, and instead of asking a closed ended question, ask an open ended one.
Emily Gomez, federal sector program manager at Hire Heroes USA, etiquette consultant, and career counselor, led the three-course meal. She emphasized the importance of trying new things and even food that you may not typically like. She led the audience through each course, explaining how to use and find the correct utensil, how to eat the meal, how to eat bread with butter, and more.
“It is not about the food, but the conversation,”said Gomez. “A lot of what etiquette is, is observing and then doing.” She made the point that the networking dinner was the place to make a mistake and to try something new. Her demonstration provided students with a clear understanding of what to expect and how to behave when they go out into the business world or if they are invited to a restaurant as a potential hire.
Giovanna Chacon Lopez, ’22, and Madalene Adams, ’20, enjoyed the opportunity to learn and meet new people. “I attended the event because of the opportunity to network and make new connections, and I’m glad that I did. I am pleased with what I learned, the people I met, and finding out how people got to where they are today,” said Lopez.
Adams said, “This event was incredible. It was a relaxed setting to make connections in a beautiful way.” At the event she learned “how to converse more easily in business, to make the right connections, and grow in confidence.”
Wendy McLawhorn, ’99, and Kayla Burton, ’18, attended the event as working professionals. McLawhorn works for Thermo Fisher Scientific and was there to help current students with their careers. “I was happy to meet students, see new activities, and talk to them about my career.”
Burton works for The Rachel Kendall Team and was happy to return to Meredith and help students in any way she could. “This was different from other presentations in the past,” said Burton. “I always enjoy coming back to Meredith.”
OCP has received positive feedback from students and professionals. Peterssen said, “Students shared that the event helped them feel less nervous and more confident holding conversations with professionals.”