Check It Off: Navigating the Cocktail Party

By Alyssa Opdyke

cocktail party_by Caroline LeBranti

Fordham seniors gathered to learn tips for networking at cocktail parties. Courtesy of Caroline Lebranti/The Fordham Ram

On Thursday, Nov. 19, approximately thirty Fordham seniors sat in Bepler Commons to talk about a common fear among the graduating class: navigating the cocktail party.

As part of the Check It Off series, the Senior Week committee collaborated with Campbell-Salice-Conley Halls and Career Services to host the “Navigating the Cocktail Party” event to help seniors succeed in any sort of networking event, especially those where alcohol is present.
For many seniors, speaking and networking with coworkers, hopeful connections and potential future employers can be quite overwhelming. From proper attire to appropriate conversation topics, succeeding at a cocktail party, much less any networking event, often seems impossible.

Fortunately, Grace Huntley, a representative from Fordham’s Career Services office gave a thorough, yet humorous and interactive presentation on the best way to present oneself and interact with other attendees at any work related events, from the cocktail party to happy hour.

Highlights from the presentation included learning about suitable topics of discussion for cocktail party conversations, including common interests and career goals, as well as unsuitable topics, including religion, politics and controversial news stories. It is important to recognize appropriate times of arrival and departure at these events, where it is acceptable to come 15 minutes late, but is unfavorable to be the first person present or last person to leave as an intern or entry level employee. This will aid in building one’s personal brand within the career world.

The presentation then opened up to frequently asked questions from what constitutes business casual attire to the acceptable amount of alcohol one should consume at these events. The floor then opened up to individual questions asked by the senior audience, thoroughly answered by Huntley.
Following the end of the question and answer session, a bar stocked with beer, wine, soda and appetizers, was opened in order to simulate a true cocktail party. This was met with open and participatory arms by the attendees, who networked with their peers while eating and drinking.

Jack Murray, FCRH ‘16 and chair of the Senior Week committee, was enthusiastic about hosting the event. “We’re so happy that we can help seniors learn practical skills that aren’t taught in the classroom through our Transitions program,” said Murray. “From navigating a cocktail party to managing personal finances or finding an apartment, these workshops are invaluable to seniors who are about to make the leap into the real world.”

Sarah Homer, FCRH ’16, agreed. “The Senior Week Committee is very proud of this year’s Navigating the Cocktail Party event,” she said. “Our fabulous Transitions Coordinator, Irene Patron GSB ’17, has been hard at work coordinating the program with Career Services and Campbell and Salice-Conley Halls for the past few months and everything came together really well. We’re all really grateful to Grace Huntley from Career Services for her excellent and informative presentation and to CSC for coordinating with us for the cocktail party portion of the evening,” said Homer.

Fortunately, support services for seniors transitioning into the “real world” do not end here. The Senior Week committee will continue to host informational events for seniors throughout the upcoming academic year. The committee previously hosted a healthy cooking event and a transition event during the earlier months of the semester, and will host events until graduation in late May. The committee’s other events include monthly costume-themed senior nights, as well as May’s Senior Week events, including senior ball, which has been relocated this year from Chelsea Piers to the famous Cipriani.


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