Do the forks go on the left or the right? Where should I put my napkin if I leave the table? These were just a few of the simple, but often overlooked, questions answered at the Broad College of Business’ Professional Dinner, hosted by the Multicultural Business Program’s Native American & Hispanic Business Students (NAHBS). The second annual event was taken to the next level by incorporating both case study practice and professional dinner etiquette — two themes that are often not combined at professional development events.

“This was a great opportunity for underclassmen students,” said senior marketing major Meagan Cortez, president of NAHBS. “Most don’t get the chance to work on a case study until they’re in the business school. Being able to practice analytical skills, gain hands on experience, and talk to recruiters is invaluable for them.”

After the case study competition presentations and the winning team announced, the evening progressed with a presentation from keynote speaker Whitney Anderson-Harrell, vice president of sales and financial education at MSUFCU. Anderson-Harrell addressed the very important, often forgotten, rules of business over food. Whether it be an interview or business meeting, lunch or dinner, it didn’t matter. What it resulted in was a completely new mindset for many students. What were some of their takeaways?

  1. “It’s not about the food. I now realize it’s more about how you present yourself. They want to see how you’re acting when multi-tasking, regardless of the situation you’re in.” -Wesley Ho (BA Finance ‘18).
  1. “Don’t take a doggie bag home.” -Nico Rodriguez (BA Accounting ‘18).
  1. “Follow your host, and keep that in mind the whole time. Pay attention to what they’re ordering, and the price range they’re ordering in.” – Hannah Ahluwala (BA Finance ‘19).
  1. “Even though I know this seems like common sense, it’s still important to remember to chew with your mouth closed before speaking.” -Moeka Yamamoto (BA Business Preference ‘20).
  1. “How to deal with the bread thing. You have to tear off a section at a time, and butter it as you eat. Everything is done with care and time. It’s not about the food, but the social setting.” -Nathaniel Feige (BA Finance ‘19 and Fundraising Chairman of NAHBS).
  1. “Pacing is important! I’m a really slow eater, and some people eat super fast. It’s subtle things like these that aren’t going to bother people day to day, but may be misconstrued in a business setting.” -Meagan Cortez (BA Marketing ‘17)

Other must-know tips from Anderson-Harrell: always wait for your host in the lobby before sitting; understand what the correct place setting is (forks on the left, knives on the right); leave your napkin in its main fold on your lap; leave that napkin on your chair, not the table, if you get up; ask the host what they recommend, don’t spend time studying the menu; don’t order something super complicated; for every two drinks your host orders, order one; don’t order alcohol;  remember your manners, and a thank you note goes a long way.

The most important thing to remember, however, is to keep moving forward even if you mess up.

Student attendees at the NAHBS dinner

Students collaborated on a case competition prior to dinner.

NAHBS Professional Development Dinner

The highly attended annual event packed the room at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

NAHBS attendees and Thin Business Sparty

Thin Business Sparty found a seat at the table with NAHBS Board members.