"Put Your Best Fork Forward"
Publication Date: 2/24/2011
It is not every day that students can enjoy a formal, four or five-course meal in the campus dining hall. As part of Career Week at Rhodes, today a group of seniors will be doing just that as they take part in the “Put Your Best Fork Forward” etiquette dinner in the Refectory’s Hyde Hall. The dinner, hosted by Career Services, provides students with the opportunity to learn proper dinner etiquette, from how to keep a conversation going to what fork to use for which course.
Career Services Director Sandi George Tracy, who organizes the dinner and guides students through each course of the meal, began the program in 1990. “That year, we had 30 percent of the senior class sign up for the program,” says Tracy. “We realized then that there was a huge interest in the topic.”
Since then, Career Services has hosted the program annually, and the upcoming dinner on Feb. 24 will be the second of this academic year. “I think the dinner is so popular because Rhodes students want to have that competitive edge,” says Tracy. “You can be much more successful when you know how to respond in a professional atmosphere.”
Tracy says that although etiquette has not changed much over the last 20 years, the workshop now includes topics like cell phone etiquette. Tracy also teaches the how-to’s of hosting formal events. “I know our students are very successful and will be hosting professional events in the not-too-distant future,” says Tracy. “I want them to feel comfortable with things like scheduling interviews.”
Last semester, 41 students participated in the dinner. Tracy invited students from the fall dinner waiting list to participate in the upcoming workshop. After the last dinner, students who attended overwhelmingly agreed that they felt confident in their dining etiquette skills. Erinn Ogburn ’11, attended that event and says that she enjoyed how light-hearted the dinner felt. “I feel like I not only gained skills that will be useful to me after Rhodes, but I was able to have a practice run using those skills,” says Ogburn.
Tracy says that she hopes learning about dinner etiquette will help students to feel more relaxed and better able to communicate in formal settings. “The important thing is to give students more confidence in professional situations, and to really give them an advantage professionally,” says Tracy.
(information compiled by Rhodes Student Associate Lucy Kellison ’13)