By Aline Batawi
For only a meal swipe, students practiced their dinner etiquette and mingled with alumni at the What the Fork event hosted by Entrepreneurs in Action and Career Development.
This event was coordinated to help prepare students for the professional dinners they are most likely to attend during their careers after Alma.
“The dinner is sponsored by EIA and co-organized by EIA and Career Development with valuable input from Susan Meyer,” said Beth Pellerito, Director of Employer Outreach. “Deb Leyes and her team at Sodexo do an amazing job of preparing a fine dining experience and delivering an extra special evening for our students.”
“It is a great opportunity for students to test their dinner etiquette in a safe environment where making a faux pas is okay,” said Emma Herron (’18), Entrepreneurs in Action president.
EIA has been hosting this event for several years and it offers a chance for students to attend a professional dinner for the first time when the stakes are low.
“I decided to attend this event because I had never had an etiquette lesson before,” said Brooke Fornetti (’21). “I figured it may be useful to know in case I ever need that knowledge.”
“As students, we are not entirely sure what a professional dinner is like until we experience one,” said Herron. “This is a great chance for us to experience one.”
According to Pellerito, some students might feel like this doesn’t apply to them and that they wouldn’t benefit from this kind of event but you never know where your career will lead.
“I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design and I never thought I would need to worry about business dinners,” said Pellerito. “Within the past two days I participated in four business lunches and dinners where I applied literally all the skills we share at the Etiquette Dinner.”
During the meal, several alumni speakers had discussions with students and shared their expertise and tips for life after graduation.
“The alumni and special guest speakers talked to students about networking, interviews and proper dinner etiquette,” said TJ Drinan (’19), a member of Entrepreneurs in Action who helped plan the event.
“I got to meet with different people of high status and talk with other students at the dinner,” said Fornetti. “I ended up making connections with people.”
In addition to the dinner, students had the opportunity to present their small business ideas in a competition for funding.
“What The Fork is held in conjunction with the Jump Start Entrepreneurship Competition,” said Herron. “It’s a Shark Tank-like competition where students can present their small business ventures and receive funding of up to $5000.”
According to Herron, students should take advantage of events like this because it is designed to help students with their futures.
“I would love for more students to attend,” said Herron. “I know all of our schedules are busy but everyone has to eat dinner, so I hope more students can take advantage of this event in the coming years.”
“After less-than-stellar attendance at this year’s event, we’re looking at fresh ways to deliver this information to students,” said Pellerito. “A lot of time and cost go into the planning and execution of this event, so we want to be sure we’re reaching as many students as possible with this valuable experience.”
The goal was to have students leave feeling more comfortable in professional settings.
“I hope students feel prepared for a formal dining situation and can apply what they learned from the event in their future,” said Drinan.
Pellerito said that students should look for more information about this event which will be held again next Winter semester.