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Career Center Holds Second Annual Graduate Student Etiquette Dinner

Connection and collaboration were the themes highlighted at the 2nd Annual Graduate Student Etiquette Dinner this year. Seven schools and offices (The Graduate School, Fuqua, Sanford, Nicholas, Pratt, the Office of Postdoctoral Studies, and the Career Center) sponsored graduate student attendance, which fostered lively networking, discussion and opportunities for students and staff who may not have crossed paths otherwise, to get to know one another. This year, more than 400 students sat next to each other and learned about professional etiquette from renowned speaker, Mary Crane. Staff collaboration from the career services offices from each of these schools and the Duke Career Center helped make the event possible.

Initially, Crane provided some basic etiquette tips, highlighting what silverware to use when, how to appropriately squeeze a lemon, and the difference between etiquette and good manners. More interesting gems of wisdom included her recent research with employers about interviewee’s behavior during mealtime interviews, and the assumptions drawn by employers about certain actions. For example, asking for the salt and pepper before tasting a meal, according to Crane, was at the top of their list for drawing conclusions about how someone might make decisions before having all of the facts. Also, “employers pay a great deal of attention to the way interviewees treat the wait staff. If they are dismissive, they will most likely be dismissive of support staff in the office, which can be problematic” said Crane.

Throughout the course of the evening, graduate students and postdocs had the opportunity to literally learn how to break bread and connect with other Dukies across campus. “This was a really great event that helped me brush up on my networking skills without the pressure of being in an actual interview” noted a fifth-year Ph.D. student. “It’s nice to meet people who aren’t in my lab” said another sixth-year Ph.D. student. As Crane noted earlier in the evening, “Gates and Neukom only crossed paths once, yet managed to stay in touch, and are now both gazillionaires. You could be sitting next to the person who could help make you a gazillionaire right now. Be sure to stay in contact.”

Crane’s hyperbole for the power of networking did not fall on deaf ears. Multiple students at the end of the night were spotted swapping business cards and facebook contact information. There are so many bright, enterprising, innovative, and driven people on Duke’s campus. Events like this enhance the these diverse strengths by drawing from multiple schools and provide impetus for staff to continue to find venues for collaboration to facilitate getting Duke graduate students in the room together.

— Annie Maxfield, M.S., Assistant Director, Graduate Students, Duke Career Center.