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Etiquette Business Dinner 2009

Xiaoyi Wang
Marketing Intern
Career Services

Remember your very first interview? Recall the moment you firmly shook the potential employer’s hand while you were praying on the inside, “PLEASE LET THIS GO WELL!” Here’s a better “first time” concept: Wear your interview suit, and shake hands with some successful professionals who can trigger your career path.  Life gets even better when they welcome you to join their table for a FREE five-course gourmet dinner! This recently happened at another memorable Etiquette Business Dinner hosted by Career Services, the MSU Billings Alumni Association, and Sodexo.

October 27 at 6 o’clock pm sharp, Rich Weigel, Sodexo district manager, kicked off the event at the MSU Billings Student Union Building. Sodexo had transformed the conference room into an elegant high class restaurant with six tables hosted by Career Services Employer Partner representatives.  Students from related majors, and one table with guests from MSU Billings administration, joined the 2009-2010 Career Services Employer Partners:  Augie Aga from Connoisseur Media, Mark Jaskot from Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, Debbie Potter from EideBailly, Jen Robbins from EBMS, Carol Bergquist from KPMG, and Stacey Hindman from St. Vincent Healthcare.

With 30-plus years of experience in the food service business and a great sense of humor, Rich made the five-course meal a real feast by presenting social as well as professional etiquette, step by step. Everyone was making mental notes on their own etiquette list of “do’s and don’ts” as 35 students enjoyed this exclusive opportunity to network with employers. Engaging conversations were happening between students and employers at each table where employers answered questions ranging from the next great opportunity to interview details. Jen Robbins, Employment Coordinator at EBMS, shared both her interview expectations and her sushi experience with business majors at her table. She complimented the food and services, and students’ ambitions. By the end of the evening, employers passed their business cards into students’ hands and wished them good luck.

Employers and students praised the event. Mark Jaskot from Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch (YBGR) commented, “Since we partner with MSUB, it was nice to interact with the students to talk about YBGR and what we look for when hiring applicants. The food was super! The best part is being able to interact with the students and answer questions they may have.” Carol Bergquist from KPMG also enjoyed the evening: “I have received several thank you notes from the students saying how much they enjoyed this event and how much they learned. It’s nice to have students know who we are.” Jen Robbins with EBMS enjoyed the dinner and said, “I loved meeting everyone at my table; they were all great. This was a great experience for me and the students. EBMS got great exposure to possible interns.”

Kevin, a student at the EideBailly table, commented, “I benefited a great deal from the event. I learned some table manners which I could always put into practice at any dinner event, and I also was able to network with a local employer.  I learned a great deal from our host’s experience, and ironically, even though the dinner was formal, the conversation was informal and casual. Overall, the Etiquette Business Dinner was a very enjoyable experience.” A business student at the EBMS table said, “The food was fantastic! I loved the guest speaker, and we had great conversations with Jen.  She shared a lot of insights on what employers expect from an interview. We also learned more about EBMS and her experience with the company.”   Matt, a COT student at the SVH table, said, “I am telling all my friends what a wonderful time I had, networking with area recruiters.”

The 2009 Etiquette Business Dinner was a great success, both in preparing students to interact with employers in a dining situation and in giving students excellent networking opportunities.  It also served as a great reminder that career opportunities await those who are prepared—and polite!

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