etiquette dinner

Etiquette pointers and best practices for graduate students and postdocs


On Tuesday, March 21, the Graduate College held the 4th annual Professional Etiquette Dinner for Graduate Students. In the Heritage Room in the University Club on Tempe Campus, multiple tables of doctoral students began the evening with a brief introduction of steps in authentic networking. These steps were developed by Annie Maxfield, Director of Graduate Career and Professional Development, Texas Career Engagement at University of Texas at Austin.  Annie was a recent guest of the Graduate College for a networking workshop in which she shared these steps for making the most of your introduction to a new professional colleague:

  1. Focus on your first impression l Do they seem receptive and engaged through verbal and non-verbal cues?
  2. Ask informed questions l Use open-ended questions, follow up with context and highlight both your own overlapping interest as well as demonstrate any prior knowledge about their work or research
  3. Find something in common l This could be research-related or a more personal topic.
  4. Create a reason to follow-up l Offer to send them a link to an article, event, news item, place to check out or possible connection. Don't forget to get their contact information and follow up.

After some time to brush off their networking skills, students were treated to a 3-course dinner with a step-by-step walk through by Melissa Goitia Werner, Executive Director of the Office of University Events & Protocol and the Office of University Ceremonies. Melissa provided explanations and demonstrations of the protocol used in western-style fine dining that are encountered frequently in academic and professional conferences and interview-dining situations in U.S.

Discussion covered many frequently asked questions such as the correct ways to shake hands, identifying which glass and silverware to use, when and how to use your phone in these settings, where to place your purse, how to place your napkin if you step away from the table. While these details may seem trivial, etiquette signals respect to dinner hosts and companions and can contribute to an overall positive impression for future colleagues and employers. Participants expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn and have a safe space to ask about these social situations.


Edited by Marjani Hawkins