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Students Prepare For Job Market At UW Event

March 11, 2016
Students learn business dining etiquette March 9.
Students learn business dining etiquette March 9.

Knowing which fork is for salad and the proper way to shake someone’s hand is critical knowledge in the business world. Those topics were on display Wednesday night at an event hosted for University of Wyoming students.

The UW Etiquette Dinner covered topics like proper introductions, name-tag placement, dining protocol and interview tactics. The event was hosted Wednesday in the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center and was sponsored by Cloud Peak Energy, with Southern Wine & Spirits of America serving as a secondary sponsor by providing the etiquette trainer. The majority of student attendees were from the Engineering and Applied Science and Business colleges at UW, along with professionals and invited guests who moderated table conversations.

Greg Clefisch, a certified etiquette trainer, provided a crash course in business etiquette during a five-course meal designed to help students overcome anxiety in career preparations.

“Thank you for taking a risk and being here,” Clefisch said to the assembled crowd of approximately 180.

Ann Jones of the College of Engineering and Applied Science Center for Student Success set the stage for the evening.

“This is a simulated business dinner, designed to get you out of your comfort zone,” she says. “When you do go for a business meeting, or an interview or even a site visit, you’re not going to have a friend, spouse or significant other in your back pocket. You’re on your own.”

Guests from Cloud Peak Energy included Director of Talent Management Emily Arthun, Senior Human Resource Generalist Shelly Rose, Communications Media Representative Michelle Butler, Wyoming Government Affairs Head Megan Degenfelder and Human Resources Coordinator Jamie Black. The group offered suggestions on dressing for an interview and decorum when dealing with potential employers, and at least one attendee listened to the advice.

“I’m looking for more experience talking to industry professionals and hiring personnel in a formal setting,” says Christopher Siebert, a senior in mechanical engineering. “I’m not necessarily interviewing, so there’s no pressure. I can eat dinner, talk to people and learn. And a free steak? You can’t beat that.”

Marvin Norena, a senior in petroleum engineering, came to UW from Peru. He used the event as a way to immerse himself in a new environment with an eye to the future.

“I’m trying to learn the culture here. I would like to learn from the people who are here,” he says. “What interested me in coming is I haven’t had an opportunity to have an interview and am very excited for the event. I’ve been to a couple of job fairs and I enjoyed them. I’m trying to get the most that I can to learn about it.”

Over a three-hour period, the presenters urged students to make a good first impression. In a competitive job market, things like a handshake, eye contact or saying “please” and “thank you” can put one candidate above the other. Mistakes are common in these situations, so students were able to see areas in which to improve.

“Learn from these experiences,” Jones says. “If they happen in practice, they just might happen in a real-life situation. This is an opportunity to learn from it now, prior to a real job being on the line.”

Professionals and Invited Guests

Steve Barrett, Associate Dean, UW College of Engineering and Applied Science

Jo Chytka, Director, UW Center for Advising and Career Services

Brett Befus, Director of Corporate Development, UW Foundation

Bryan Brodersen, Retired, 45 years in real estate

John Chapple, Corporate Controller, Johns Manville

Andy Chapman, Marketing/Communications Specialist, UW College of Engineering and Applied Science

Gary Crum, Chief Executive Officer, Wyoming State Bank

Randi Downham, Cash Management Officer, First Interstate Bank

Gregory Dyekman, Business Lawyer, Dray, Dyekman, Reed & Healey, P.C.

Kristi Johnson, Talent Acquisition Manager, Black Hills Corporation

Paul Lester, Tax Litigator, Shell Oil, Alston & Bird

Len Lutz, Academic Professional Lecturer, UW College of Engineering and Applied Science

George Mathes, Senior Vice President, Trihydro

Ben McKay, Project Manager, Handel Information Technologies

Chase McNamee, Senior Coordinator, UW Alumni Association

Patrick Owen, Public Relations Coordinator, UW Alumni Association

Aaron Rodriguez, Business Relationship Manager, Wells Fargo

Ron Schlattman, Retired Professor and Volunteer, University of Wisconsin

Toni Selman, Human Resources Manager, Black Hills Corporation

Phil Temte, Assistant Director of Operations, UW Office of Admissions

Jack Tennant, Major Gift Officer, UW Foundation

Stuart Webster, Chief Financial Officer, Medicine Bow Technologies, Inc.

Steven Russell, Director of Marketing and External Relations, UW College of Business


Etiquette Pointers

Prior to the meal: Show up early and turn off your cell phone

Napkin etiquette: Place it in your lap as soon as you are seated

What to order: Choose a mid-priced entrée and avoid messy or hard-to-eat foods

Table setting: General rule is to eat from the outside in

When to eat: Begin eating only after everyone has been served

Seasoning: Always taste food before adding seasoning and if requested, pass the salt and pepper together

Serving size: Cut food one bite at a time and butter bread one bite at a time

Silverware: Once used, return to the plate—never to the table

When finished: Lay your fork and knife diagonally across your plate at the 10-4 position

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