NEIU Etiquette Gala 2022: Dress for Success

Photo+By+Alan+Luntz

Photo By Alan Luntz

Ananth Prabhu, Writer

NEIU’s College of Business and Technology (CBT) hosted an Etiquette Gala event for students of all disciplines on Friday, Nov 18, 2022. The purpose of the gala was to showcase the proper manners and expected behaviors that students must do in a professional setting. Learning about etiquette may seem posh or pretentious to outsiders, but that is not the case. Etiquette is all about respecting the host of an event, such as an employer or prospective employer and acknowledging the organization’s culture and social expectations at a job or career. The Etiquette School of Chicago was brought by NEIU’s CBT to teach the art of American Etiquette behaviors during a semi-formal gathering. The gala included a five-course meal, an open bar and a live manners presentation by the Etiquette School of Chicago.

 

As stated by Edwin Medina, Student Advisor and Council President of CBT, the initiative of the etiquette gala is to “provide students with the necessary soft skills in order for them to be able to conduct themselves over a professional business meal.” According to CBT’s program director, Vladimir Fernandez, has stated that the premise of the etiquette gala was for students to receive “an opportunity to level the playing field so that they’re aware of the customs and the mannerisms that are going to be required when they get invited into a working dinner, lunch or interview, whatever the case may be.”

 

One of the manners included grabbing the wine glass by the bowl instead of the stem. Typically, Americans would break open the hot bread and spread the butter via a butter knife, but etiquette shows us that the proper manner is to break off a bite-sized piece of bread and spread butter on that single piece before eating it. Another manner included having sitting posture with a straight upright back and bringing the soup spoon to the mouth instead of hunching over a soup bowl. A fourth manner included holding the rear edge of the knife with the right hand with the index finger pointing down and holding the fork with the left hand with the index finger and fork prongs pointing down, while pushing food onto the posterior of the fork with the knife’s help. It may feel counterintuitive to do some of these behaviors, but it is considered American etiquette standards, according to the Etiquette School of Chicago.

 

When going to a formal event for a career or networking event, it is imperative not to be overindulgent or foolishly contort oneself with the supply of food. Thus, it is recommended to eat before leaving home and limiting the quantity of food eaten at formal events and gatherings. Some attendees have commented that they were still hungry after the meal was over. It is often important to take some worthwhile advice from a vegetarian, which is to eat before you leave home especially when there are doubts about the available food options. It is important to remain classy and cognizant at formal and semi-formal engagements because you are very likely to meet new and important people at these events that may impact your life greatly. Sometimes the firsthand experience of such an extravagant event is more important than the food at said event.

 

As expressed by Undergraduate Computer Science Student, Amanda Rossi, the aspiration of the etiquette gala was “to educate students for and prepare them for future encounters, [such as] having an interview at a diner or preparing them, educating them and spreading the knowledge” of how to behave at formal events. I could not agree with Rossi more about that sentiment. Rossi has served on the Student Advisory Council (SAC) for the second year, and she stated that CBT and SAC did the gala last year, but since “COVID was more hot then, we didn’t really have a bigger outfit than we did this year.” Speaking of past years, Fernandez mentioned that there has been a wine tasting at a past year’s event “just on the off-chance that for a company outing, you might have an open bar.” Having an alcoholic beverage in a social setting is a great and healthy way to lower your inhibitions, get in the flow of conversation, relax, establish responsible drinking and socialize with peers.

 

There are definitely plans in motion to do a similar semi-formal event next year. As Rossi puts it, “it was nice to see we have more students [and] more faculty coming this year and participating and engaging than last year.” Her plans for next year are to “get more students involved so more students can be educated over etiquette [by] marketing and showing” this year’s activities.

 

Overall, it was a fun night to dress in business casual attire while talking and networking with other students. Students may be financially distressed about the proper attire for such an occasion. Fernandez definitely has students covered by suggesting “students have access to the ‘power closet’ as a good resource for our students.” Mac Varilla, Aquatics Coordinator and attendee of the event, has definitely not been shy about using the ‘power closet’ to obtain a spiffy sports coat. Varilla admitted the gala is “very insightful [and] beneficial as I progress into the next stage of my life.” The dinner included a five-course meal with a bread roll, soup, salad, main course and dessert. Albeit, the courses remained quite small. The courses included meat as well as vegetarian alternatives. There was also a photographer doing professional headshots after dinner.

 

As a graduate student in public health, I can assert that professionals will experience events like this in the future because during my undergraduate internship, I had the opportunity to attend such an event with the organization I was working for. Learning and having good manners is fun to partake in because it is a chance to show what you are like outside of the workplace setting, such as an office, cubicle, boardroom or meeting. By practicing these soft skills with CBT, students are less likely to be nervous or anxious, while being more likely to be comfortable and aware of the expectations. I had a lot of fun dressing in a fancy demeanor while having the proper sashay in mixed company while learning a thing or two because it was not like a banal work day, and it was a chance to shake things up.