On a Friday evening in October students from MSTM Graduate track, Advancement track as well as the MSBA program dressed up and gathered together at the Atrium of BIF. It was in my opinion, one of the most impressive events held by the College of Business at the University of Illinois. It just couldn’t be more practical and helpful of an event since it helps us to make a good first impression on people during a business dinner and this is not something you will have a second chance at.
It was kind of chilly outside, while I entered the BIF building, I suddenly felt the warm atmosphere of my classmates standing together and chatting with each other. What I saw was the whole first floor of BIF was taken over by our tables. Interim Director, Jeff Kurtz gave us a great opening conveying the how meaningful and practical this event is; he was relaxed and cool as usual.
After all of us were seated at our assigned tables, our hostess, Mrs. Reutter, introduced herself and gave us a brief introduction of the difference of professional etiquette and social etiquette and emphasized that we would focus on professional etiquette today.
I personally love this opportunity because I always believe that minute details are of vital importance, whether it is first-time handshake or manners during the dinner, all of which are first impressions to other people. Just as the says goes: “You never have the second chance to make a first impression.” Even till now, every time I use a fork and knife, I keep practicing what I have learned during the Etiquette Dinner.
We were first given a brief description of the silver ware neatly laid on our table. We first started with a hot soup, followed by our main entrée and finally ended with a refreshing desert. At the end, we were all served grape juice in wine glasses. As we went through the different courses of the meals, Mrs. Reutter pressed the importance of small talk among table mates as well as how to make and reply to a toast, which are rather practical. We were also able to practice after each of the manners so that we remember. Since most of us are not westerns nor had systematically trained about dinner etiquette before, we treated this lesson carefully. With the great explanation and patience in pointing out our problems, I can say I will use many of the things she taught us.
Coincidentally enough, I met a lady back in Beijing, not long before I came to the US. She is known as “Beijing’s Miss Manners” by Financial Times, who is taking old-world etiquette to modern China with her high-end Institute Sarita. Her clients are Chinese business and social circle leaders, who are rather forward-looking. I think this is the perfect evidence of how important etiquette is to us. Now, instead of paying thousands of dollars and for a course, that would be more of a network platform, we were able to have a brief peek of the charm of etiquette as part of our Masters professional development! I am thankful to the MSTM program who organized such an impressive event for all of us.