Students take part in etiquette dinner at Northeast Community College


Special to the Viewpoint

NORFOLK – You may not have two spoons, two knives and three forks at each place setting at your dinner table at home on any given evening, but knowing how and when to use those extra utensils during a formal dinner occasion could avoid an embarrassing scene when trying to make an impression on others.

Approximately 80 students and others at Northeast Community College had the opportunity to put their formal social skills to use during an etiquette dinner at the College’s Lifelong Learning Center recently.

Terri Heggemeyer, director of career services, said the etiquette dinner began in 2013 after she had conversations with some instructors and campus student leadership groups. She said that proper dining etiquette is an important component that students need to know when they are in a formal dinner setting.

“The etiquette dinner is designed to enhance our student’s communication skills and give them a refresher on proper dining etiquette,” she said. “Every interaction, whether formal or informal, requires communication skills. Etiquette, in my mind, is doing what is proper and polite in any particular situation.”

Designed as a formal event, the Northeast Community College Etiquette Dinner begins with a networking session where students mingle and communicate with fellow students and College faculty and staff. Following this social time, guests are seated and are then served a five-course meal. Chartwells, the food service provider at the College, prepares and serves the meal.

Heggemeyer said while guests are dining, they are instructed on proper etiquette and how to converse with others at each table.

“We discuss how and when to use all the dinnerware at the table setting, as well as overcoming other challenging dining situations. We also learn the proper technique on introductions, with additional tips on interviewing skills.”                                                     

Shelley Noonan, certified etiquette instructor, offered dining etiquette and networking advice to those in attendance.

Heggemeyer and Amy Koehler, career services administrative assistant, assist students in determining what steps they need to take in planning and achieving their career goals. The Northeast Career Services Office offers a variety of services and programs to assist with career development, job searches, and employment needs of students and alumni.

Heggemeyer said the etiquette dinner will pay dividends to those who attend.

“I think if a person is polite and has good manners, they will make a great impression on others, whether it is a personal or professional relationship. Our manners and behaviors are essential to our success. The person who has good manners will stand out and be noticed in a positive light. They make others feel comfortable and respected,” Heggemeyer said. “Good etiquette shows that we care about ourselves and how we represent ourselves. And in turn, we are showing that we are thinking of others.”