Business Education Goes Beyond Econ to Include Protocol

May 8, 2017 at 7:30 am

Hannah Terpack instruction in business etiquette and international protocol.

To help business-school graduates be more competitive, the University of South Carolina Upstate has a staff member who has been recently certified to provide instruction in business etiquette and international protocol to students at the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics.

The information is provided by Hannah Terpack, freshman advisor and student services coordinator at the Johnson College of Business and Economics (JCBE), who has been certified by the Protocol School of Washington and who is often the first point of contact for businesses to establish partnerships for internships and other employment opportunities.

“What we’re hearing from employers across the board is that students are capable — they come out of college and they have the ability, they have the aptitude, they have the skills to perform in a position,” she said. “What sometimes they are lacking are the soft skills that are necessary to be able to do business with people, to represent a company, to represent a brand, to follow through and forge a relationship that is meaningful and productive.”

USC Upstate has for years held a “protocol dinner” each semester for juniors and seniors at the Johnson College of Business and Economics, with an outside company providing the training. Terpack said that by in-sourcing the professionalism series, the University has been able to increase the number of workshops and protocol meals, reaching more students and providing a bigger impact across the student population.

“What we’re trying to do here is make this kind of etiquette, this kind of protocol, accessible to our students,” Terpack explained. “It’s not about stuffiness. It’s not about ‘elbows off the table’ or ‘chin up’ or ‘sit up straight in your chair’; it’s about charm and poise – teaching our business graduates and other students in the University to be able to build rapport and making those around them feel comfortable because they’re not talking too loudly or exhibiting poor people skills.

Terpack said that “teaching protocol in the manner that the JCBE does promotes accessibility to students, which is important because, for the few of us among these last two generations when etiquette may have been taught in the home, etiquette was not generally considered a fun thing.  Some people may even consider etiquette, especially in dining, to be overwhelming or intimidating.  For our students who may feel this way, it is my job to break down that barrier so that they know they have seat at the table, and they are going to know how to take that seat properly. … Our students learn and practice both the American and continental styles of dining, which is particularly important in this part of the state where so many companies are international.”

Topics that are covered by Terpack include the right way to shake hands, how to wear a name tag properly, how to present oneself with authority and credibility, how to make meaningful small talk without feeling awkward, how to make proper introductions, selecting the appropriate attire for every business occasion, and even how to propose a toast.

“We have several business students who keep coming back to our workshops and dinners, and they often make the comment that they learn something new with each session,” she said. “They become more confident in their personal presentation skills and that spills over to interviewing, networking and being recognized as someone who, in a professional setting, has set themselves apart as a class act.”

While the dinners are exclusively for junior and senior students in USC Upstate’s business program, Terpack said she also presents workshops throughout the year that are open to all students.