For University of Wisconsin-Parkside students, Business Professor Rizvana Zameerruddin's Business Etiquette Dinner, held this year on Friday, Oct. 5 in Racine, was not only a chance to get a good meal, it was also a unique learning opportunity. Some 101 students paid $35 for an evening that included an appetizer, entrée, and dessert along with instructions on how to eat--and impress a prospective employer--in a business setting.
According to an article on the dinner written by Racine Journal Times reporter Michael Burke, the Business Etiquette Dinner was served course by course, with a presentation preceding each one.
"They learn how to eat that course," Zameeruddin said, "and we do it interactively."
Here are a couple of rules, she said, about the soup course: "Never crumble crackers in your soup." And, "Don't leave the spoon in your soup. Always put it on the plate," or on your butter plate. It's a very practical rule, Zameeruddin pointed out: If your hand should knock a spoon from a bowl of soup, you'd create a splashy, messy spectacle.
Professor Zameeruddin told Burke she imported the idea from her native London, explaining, "It was part of our education in London."
For a prospective employee, she said, a business dinner's real purpose is to test the interviewee. "They want to see how you conduct yourself socially, because you're representing the company in front of clients. It's to see if they can they trust you to take clients out."
UW-Parkside student Matthew Harmon sent a congratulatory email to Zameeruddin calling the meal "amazing" and adding, "I was really captured by your presentation, even though I was put on-the-spot a few times for bad eating habits. Ha ha. I did not know that there were so many signals that could send the wrong message by just eating wrong."
Harmon then thanked the professor for putting in the work needed to make the event successful and for going, "that extra mile to make sure [your] students get more out of a course than just another lecture time."
He also expressed hope that the dinner will continue to give future students "a competitive edge in the business field."College of Business, Economics, and Computing Dean Fred Ebeid replied to Harmon saying the number of people attending, "demonstrates 101 good reasons for continuing the event in the years ahead."