Armando Fulgencio was a graduating senior at Turlock High School in 2006 when he took part in the THS Etiquette Program.
During the formal dining event of the two-day training, which pairs THS students with local professionals and dignitaries for an uptown dining experience, he landed an entry-level job as a dishwasher at On Broadway with Two Guys. Six years later he is now the kitchen manager and sous chef at Two Guys.
Fulgencio gives credit for his success to the teamwork between THS' Transitional Partnership Program and nationally renowned Luann Alemao, an etiquette and image coach.
"I really learned that paying attention to the small details can pay off. Things like being on time, being respectful and making people feel comfortable have helped me tremendously," said Fulgencio.
The program has paid dividends for numerous TPP students at THS. In addition to etiquette training students receive instruction on how to best present themselves with confidence and poise. Perhaps the most important part of etiquette is the interpersonal skills; something Alemao said is paramount to success for both the young and old. In a society that is placing less and less merit on interpersonal skills for its youth, Alemao said texting and e-mail will never replace people skills in the work force.
"Interpersonal skills and conduct is 85 percent of the reason people get a job and keep a job," she said. "Business is about people and a lot of people run into road blocks because they can't engage in social interactions from small talk to conflict resolutions."
Included in the etiquette training is instruction on how to prepare food, nutritional education, professional dress and how to meet and greet people, including those with disabilities. However, the highlight of the experience is the lunch at Two Guys. Anything and everything in the world of proper etiquette is discussed during a two-hour formal dining setting - but the message of the meal was that proper etiquette is important no matter the future of the student.
"This is about preparing for future encounters. When I was your age I never thought I would be sitting with dignitaries," said Alemao.
Etiquette Tips your mom may have missed:
- Don't put salt and pepper on food until after you taste it - it is considered an insult to the chef.
- Sit down on the left side of the chair and exit on the right.
- Pass the bread to the right unless the person immediately next to you requests the bread.
- Upon sitting, immediately place the napkin in your lap.
- If there are eight people or less at a table you must wait until all are seated to begin the meal.