The School of Business Teaches Students the Art of a Business Meal
by Victoria Caroccia
The College of Staten Island’s School of Business teamed up with the Career and Scholarship Center to host their first annual business etiquette luncheon for students and faculty. The “Art of the Business Meal: An Etiquette Luncheon” was held at the Park Cafe in building 1C and provided students, faculty, and alumni with a four course meal along with helpful tips to guide them through the world of business meals.
“Our goal for this afternoon is to prepare and teach proper business etiquette,” said Joan DiMeo Lyons, Senior Career Specialist at the Career and Scholarship Center. “So please enjoy the food, but immerse yourself in the experience!”
The luncheon commenced with Lyons introducing herself and other faculty members, along with business professionals from several different organizations throughout the island. Lyons began by addressing the importance of business casual dress and reminding students that a first impression can make or break an interview.
“When we bring students in for the CUNY Big Apple Job Fair, we’ll often turn them away if they aren’t properly dressed,” said Lyons. “It only takes a few seconds for an employer to decide whether or not they’ll hire you based on appearance.” Lyons then went on to give examples of the fashion faux pas, including men wearing dirty sports jackets and women donned in sky-high platform stilettos with caked-on makeup.
Lyons then introduced the faculty members from both the School of Business and the Career and Scholarship Center, along with the “leaders” of each table. Students were assigned seating with one table leader who was a professional in the field of business. One of the table leaders, Melanie Cahn, is the Executive Director of the Staten Island Arts organization.
“I was a fine arts major in college and was discouraged from taking any kind of business classes,” said Cahn. “I think it’s smart to learn about business, not just for artists, but for everyone. You need to learn to market yourself, build a brand, and sell your skills.”
According to Dr. Susan Hollack, the founding dean of the School of Business, the college originally held luncheons for business students several years ago in order to prepare them for potential job interviews with prospective employers. With the launch of the college’s School of Business, the Career and Scholarship Center deemed it necessary to bring the event back to benefit current students.
“If you get started early and pay attention to your resources, the sky is the limit!” said Hollack.
Before each course, Lyons sat at the front of the room and gave detailed instructions of how each meal should be eaten. She went over everything from Continental vs. American style dining to which utensils are used for each meal. Noticing the worried look on students’ faces, Lyons made sure to break the ice.
“Remember in Titanic, when Leonardo DiCaprio was confused about which silverware to use? Just remember what Kathy Bates told him: start from the outside and work your way in!” said Lyons.
In between courses, students were able to talk amongst themselves and their table leaders about school, work, and life goals. Francis Zapata and Newton Brooks, both freshman Entrepreneurial Business majors, discussed their experiences with business ownership.
“I’ve met with a lot of entrepreneurs to discuss how they go about running their businesses,” said Brooks. “I know that there’s a lot that goes into it and I’m just looking to gain experience and learn as much as I can. It’s good to have sources and connections.”
“My family owned a restaurant several years ago, but had to close down,” said Zapata. “My cousin left our business and decided to open up his own place right down the block. It just shows how tough it is to run a business nowadays with all of this competition.”
Along with students and faculty, several CSI alumni were in attendance to share their knowledge and experiences. Michael Katz graduated from the college in 2010 with a degree in Media Studies and is now the Entertainment Director for the Staten Island Yankees.
“When I have business meetings with my co-workers, we don’t have fancy wine glasses on the table, usually just buckets of beer,” said Katz. “It’s important to recognize your work environment and remember all of the things you’ve learned today, but really it’s about being yourself. Let your personality shine through.”
At the end of the luncheon, faculty raffled off several different business how-to books to lucky students. Those who attended the luncheon were not only left with full stomachs, but with new and helpful knowledge that they could carry with them throughout their careers.