Fine Dining: A toast to success in the real world

By Jess Decina

Last week some friends and I sat around and drank several glasses of wine. And the University paid for it.

I know that seems shocking, but it’s not what it sounds like.

Some friends and I ventured into the Bart Luedeke Center Fireside Lounge last Friday because we’d heard whisperings of a wine-tasting event. We walked into the room, where we were ushered to a table at the front. After several other students drifted in, Nick Barbati, Campus Activities Coordinator and brain behind the series, informed us all that we were attending the first event in the University’s “Upgrade Yourself Senior Series.” It’s more or less a crash course, designed just for the Class of 2008, on how to be an adult.

This first segment paired a session on how to dress for success with the aforementioned wine tasting lesson. (The wine was apparently the “hook,” I heard someone say jokingly). For about 20 minutes, Director of Career Services Joyce Tyler presented slides that covered every aspect of dressing appropriately for the real world. I learned about the importance of exactly what I should and shouldn’t be wearing on job interviews. As a senior who has already started that dreaded job hunt, knowing what I can and can’t wear — down to jewelry and accessories — is an incredible help.

The second, and perhaps more anticipated, session focused on the importance of knowing about good wine. I’m not talking about those cheap, fruity blends and I’m certainly not talking about wine coolers. Students — not to worry, we were all 21 — were given four glasses of wine, two whites and two reds. As we sipped our glasses, Dr. Tom Callahan, professor of history and closeted connoisseur, walked us through the different meals that each wine could be paired with. In general, fish and chicken go with white and beef with red, in case you wanted to know. If my employer ever suggests I choose the wine at a company dinner, I won’t respond with a panicked look on my face.

As I stood to leave, happy and full of wine, Barbati announced the series would continue with two more events: dinner etiquette and dancing lessons. Additionally, the seniors that attend all three events will be placed into a raffle for a prize at the end of the semester.

This has been, by far, one of the most unique and enjoyable opportunities the University has provided. Faculty and staff are shelling out their time and knowledge (and their wine supply!) to provide the senior class with a gentle nudge into adulthood. Granted, four years of classes and clubs have hopefully taught the seniors something about the real world, but the fact that Rider’s going the extra mile has truly impressed me.

I’m looking forward to testing my newly acquired “grown-up” skills in the corporate environment. Now all I have to do is find a job.

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