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19 alumni turn out to mentor 80 students at Etiquette Dinner

For students preparing to embark on professional careers, the thought of participating in a business dinner can be daunting.

The Offices of Career Services and Alumni Affairs partnered with Lafayette Dining Services to hold an etiquette dinner Feb. 28. The evening featured Anne Baum, president of Vision Accomplished, who presented “Dine for Success: How to Make a Great Impression.” Nineteen alumni and 80 students attended the event.

For psychology major Ashley Wilson ’08 (New York, N.Y.), the event helped her become more confident in the way she interacts with professionals. After graduation, Wilson will enter Citigroup’s human resources analyst training program.

“During previous internships and twice during the interview process for a full-time position, I was invited to lunch by senior management,” Wilson says. “Since I never had formal training or any training for that matter in this area, I was so self conscious that it caused me to be overly anxious. When this opportunity was presented to me, I took full advantage of it.”

Qi Sun ’11 (Shenyang, China) agrees that formal situations could be overwhelming. The double major in mathematics and economics & business found that the segment devoted to etiquette in other parts of the world was especially informative.

“When I was in a formal situation before, I didn’t know the proper way to act and therefore felt awkward,” Qi says. “I thought this event could help me with this issue, and it did. It also taught us different styles of eating in America and in other countries. In addition, students were able to network with alumni. I talked with an alumnus about going into a Ph.D. program, and he gave me many good suggestions.”

Wilson also enjoyed the opportunity to pick up tips from alumni.

“I appreciated having alumni at my table who shared their personal experiences and provided great advice,” she says. “Overall, it was a wonderful opportunity.”

For alumni, the dinner provided a chance to help students the way others helped them when they were undergraduates. Carla Panzitta Santoro ’84, who worked nine years as a senior manager for Accenture, believes events like the etiquette dinner allow students to learn valuable skills in a relaxed atmosphere.

“In the past three years, I have become a member of the Career Services Committee where we assist the staff in recruiting firms to sponsor students for internships and externships and try to improve the students’ skills in areas of interviewing and finding new professions,” she notes. “I loved this idea to work with students in a smaller setting that wasn’t intimidating to help them do all the right things to secure a position while at an interview lunch or dinner.”

Susan Antonioni Royster ’01, an associate attorney at Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba, P.C., also stresses the importance of skills like networking and appropriate conduct during business dealings.

“Young professionals may be exposed to networking and dinner events early on in their careers,” she says. “Collectively, they often experience uncertainty about how to properly network to make such events productive and worthwhile. The consultant provided helpful information and reassured the students that networking takes practice to maximize the benefits of attendance at such events.”

Both Santoro and Royster credit the College with helping them succeed as undergraduates and after they left Lafayette. By offering that same support and expertise, they are strengthening the connection between alumni and students.

“Lafayette is such a special part of my life,” says Santoro. “As a student, an alumnus gave me an opportunity to do an externship and an internship that helped me form my opinions about the working world and ultimately helped me secure a career in consulting. For me, assisting the College as a volunteer on the Career Services Committee is a chance to offer my support to students in a hands-on environment that truly supports one of our important missions in preparing the students for ‘life after Lafayette.’ I love interacting with students and alumni in this aspect of volunteerism.”

“I enjoyed active participation in Lafayette’s activities and events when I attended,” adds Royster. “While a student, I appreciated the perspective offered by alumni who volunteered their time to speak about their careers and life experiences. In addition to cultivating its students academically, the College provides cultural and social enrichment, which are also fundamental to post-graduate success. By identifying and addressing important social skills at the undergraduate level, the College is providing its students with a valuable ‘one up’ on other future professionals.”

Other alumni in attendance include Kelly Barrows ’06, marketing consultant, Kim Barrows CFP, CLU; Renae Schneck Biale ’82, president, RCB Communications; Barry Bregman ’77, financial services partner, CT Partners; Lindsay Bryant ’07, data analyst, Bloomberg; Michelle Ellis ’07, Olympus Fellow, Olympus; Alex Karapetian ’04, Acopian Technical Company; Lynn Kizis ’84, attorney, Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer; Ben Mack ’02, vice president, Marsh, Inc.; Carolyn Pierce ’81; John Pierce ’81, vice president and general manager, Turner Construction; Alison Poole ’04, senior account executive, Ogilvy Public Relations; Matt Potter ’07, account executive, Bristol West Insurance by Farmers; Peter Reineke ’85, vice president of regional development, Lehigh Valley Economic Development; Mariellen Rudoi ’96, product manager, Flowserve; Brandon Stanford ’06, marketing manager, Bristol West Insurance Group; Debbie Trempel ’83; and Wynne Whitman ’86, attorney, Schenck, Price, Smith & King, L.L.P.

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