• TheDMonline.com Staff Member?
  • Log In
Share |

Backpacks to Briefcase, student-athletes learn dinner etiquette

The thought of being in a professional setting can be frightening to students.
The Ole Miss Athletics Department, along with the Ole Miss M-Club Alumni Chapter, had this in mind when organizing a “Backpack to Briefcase” dinner for junior and senior athletes.
The Monday night dinner, located at The Ole Miss Inn, was the 14th year that the dinner has been organized to prepare student-athletes for life beyond their sport.
The 78 students who participated in the dinner were divided randomly to sit at 10 tables with one host. The host is a business professional who guided the athletes in the proper way to eat.
Career Center Director Toni Avant was the facilitator, and she started the night by explaining how many students are accustomed to eating on the go because we live in a world where fast food restaurants are practically on every corner.
“It is a good idea for you to learn how to manage a meal that is more than a cheeseburger or Abner’s or whatever else our students enjoy on the run,” Avant said.
Avant went through proper etiquette at the dinner table, including passing the salt and pepper shakers together, not splitting bread, smearing butter over the whole thing and never placing dirty utensils on the linen. The event even covered how to place your napkin in your lap.
“Either in interviews or at conferences, you are always eating around your colleagues or people who are interviewing you, so eating, communicating is good education whether they know it now, or know it later,” said Steven Cox, an intern for student athletics.
One of the table hosts, Miriam Knight, works at First National Bank of Oxford.
She said that not only will they learn proper table etiquette, she would also give tips on resume and interview.
“It’s important for student athletes to be fully prepared when they enter the workforce to know what to expect,” Knight said. “This is going to be something a little more hands on from what they would learn in a class.”
Associate Athletics Director for Internal Operations Jamil Northcutt was a student-athlete at Ole Miss, and he said he wants the students to learn about professional development and to know skills that will set them a part from every one else.
“You’ve seen people that don’t know what fork to use or where their glass is, they grab the wrong glass, somebody else’s glass,” Northcutt said. “We want our kids to be prepared for life after sport and also right now.”
Northcutt explained the importance of confidence and knowing what to do makes you confident.
He went further to share his own experience concerning the importance of first impressions. At a conference he attended as a student he was noticed by a professional who later suggested he send his resume in for an internship. He was noticed because of the impression he made.
Junior education major Erinn Jayjohn is a softball player who thinks that sometimes people may not take athletes serious, so the event will help them learn how to present themselves in a formal setting.
“I think it’s important because we have to be able to go from our sport to interviews with business professionals and I think it’s important to know what kind of environment we are going to be in in the future,” Jayjohn said.
Before the dinner, Northcutt said a few things for the athletes to take away and use in life.
“Professionalism is key to being successful in life,” he said.