TAMU-CC Serves Up Etiquette Sessions to Perfect Students’ Business Dining Skills

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Is soup or salad the better appetizer to order at a business dinner? Should you accept a glass of wine if offered? Which fork should you eat dessert with?

These seemingly simple questions are among the many nuances being explored by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi students during a series of etiquette dining events hosted by the university’s Career and Professional Development Center.

These formal gatherings serve as immersive classrooms where students delve into the details of professional comportment under the instruction of Career Center Executive Director, Dr. Leslie Mills. Amid growing conversation and the clink of cutlery, students embark on a journey of refinement to uncover the subtleties of dining etiquette that could make or break a first impression. Beyond knowing which fork to use and where to place a napkin, these dinners offer a masterclass in the art of professional presence and networking.

“Being invited to a formal business meeting over a meal can be intimidating to anyone,” Mills said. “And for our students who began their college journeys during the start of the pandemic, there are key skills and social cues that really have to be experienced in-person.”

Students arrive at the dinner dressed in their professional best before taking their places at the highly decorated tables in the University Center Anchor Ballroom. From there, they are guided through a three-course meal, complete with multiple glasses and sets of silverware.

“Prior to attending the etiquette dinner, I hadn’t attended a fine dining situation like this before,” said Cierrah Godin ’24, communication studies major. “However, I was aware that many interviewers expect a certain level of professionalism in such a setting. I am glad that now I feel prepared to attend an interview over dinner and make a great impression.”

For civil engineering major, Anya Carlson ’26, attending the etiquette dinner gave her the confidence boost she needed to actively promote herself in an alternative professional setting.

“I think that participating in the dinner will help me stand out from my peers,” she said. “Being able to easily converse while eating a meal in an interview is a skill that I am glad to have cultivated.”

Some of the lessons Islander students are mastering can be helpful for anyone who wants to make a great impression at a professional dining engagement. They include:

  1. Don’t arrive starving!

“Always pack a snack to have on the way,” Mills said. “This will help with pacing yourself and also making sure you leave room for conversation.”

  1. Prioritize foods that are easy to maneuver — this means soup over salad and skip the burger or ribs. Don’t dunk your bread in your soup; instead, butter your bread piece by piece, breaking off parts as you go.
  2. Choose a mid-priced meal option.
  3. Decline any offers of alcohol in an interview setting.

“This could be a test,” Mills warned. “Water is always a safe bet. If, later, you are representing a company, make sure you are aware of any alcohol policies, and always limit your consumption.”

  1. Salt and pepper are passed around together — always counter-clockwise.
  2. Utensils are laid in the order they are used — go from the outside in.
  3. Got a bad bite? Don’t spit it out into your napkin.

“Discretion is always key,” Mills said. “Take it from your mouth subtly and slide it under your plate.”

  1. Switch your cell phone to off or place it on silent until after you leave the venue.


For a look at additional services provided by university’s Career Center, visit tamucc.edu/institutional-advancement/career-center/ or call 361.825.2628.