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UI men learn to wine and dine

BY MICHAEL ARRIOLA | MARCH 02, 2010 7:30 AM

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Fifteen men sat around a conference table at a meeting designed to improve their job prospects. But instead of focusing on résumés, they turned their attention to dinner etiquette.

“How do you let people know if they have something in their teeth?” one asked.

“How do I eat a burger but still use etiquette?” asked University of Iowa junior David Siegel, who founded the Men in Business organization.

At the group’s meeting Monday night, Amy Jo Reimer-Myers, associate director of the UI’s Outreach Programs, led the college-age men in a series of dining-etiquette techniques that she noted can be useful in a professional situation.

“Everything has a system,” she said. “Slowing down and introducing yourself to the person next to you is the first step in providing a comfortable environment.”

She went through a number of different scenarios with the budding professionals, such as what to do when spilling a drink or clarifying who should order first. A full dinner set was laid out on the table in front of her: eight pieces of silverware, four glasses, two cups, and various plates.

The organization, officially created slightly more than a week ago, is aimed at helping young men entering the professional world learn skills they can use outside of the typical office setting, in situations such as dinner with a boss or golfing with potential clients.

“Certain skills cannot be learned in a classroom at college,” said Siegel, a business major. “We want to provide students with an opportunity to have an edge in the business world when it comes to marketing oneself in networking opportunities.”

The group members will take the skills learned in meetings and put them into action in real-life situations, he said. With a $200 grant from the UI Student Government, the men will host a dinner at a local restaurant to practice their new manners.

David Hensley, a UI clinical professor and the executive director of the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, said this kind of training is valuable.

“A lot of business opportunities may take place outside of the office, and it is important to know how to clearly communicate in these nontraditional business settings,” he said.

One of the group’s board members, UI alumnus Dusty Brown, also emphasized the importance of these skills after graduating.

“Now that I am working in corporate sales, I can really see the value members of this organization will receive from learning etiquette skills,” he said. “There will be plenty of opportunities to use etiquette skills once in the professional world, and I think these members will have an advantage over some.”

In his role as board member, he will look for learning opportunities for the group.

The group of students remained attentive during Monday’s meeting, asking questions and taking advantage of the Reimer-Myers’ knowledge.

Ryan Armstrong, a UI sophomore and group member, said he’s hoping learn how to hold a decent conversation with potential employers or possible clients.

“Although I am not a business student, I think the skills taught through this organization will be beneficial when interacting in a professional environment,” he said.


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