BY CAITLYN VAN ES
Food, fun and fellowship. It’s not all business at Formal Friday.
Last spring, professors in the business department decided they wanted to build community in the department. Professor Eric Elder said he read a Wall Street Journal article on counteracting casual Fridays. He thought this was a great idea, and thus began Formal Friday.
On the last Friday of each month, business students are invited to dress in their best business attire and enjoy the company of fellow classmates after their Friday classes. The Korver Visual Arts Center Gallery, the Vogel Community Room and the De Witt Theater Arts Center Lobby, are a few of the places this event has been held.
“We try to be creative and useful with our space,” Elder said.Each professor provides appetizers for each Formal Friday meeting. For many, the food is their favorite part.
“My wife always makes something new and special,” Elder said. “I always enjoy the new recipes she tries.”
Professor Vonda Post said she enjoys being able to converse with students over delicious food. Barbecue smokies, jalapeño poppers and a chocolate fountain are some of the appetizers students have enjoyed when attending.
Although food is important, the fellowship between the students and professors is perhaps more beneficial.
“One of our goals is to just have personal interactions in a less formal setting than a classroom,” Post said. “We enjoy getting to know the students better and maybe meet a student we have not had in class yet.”
Formal Fridays are a chance for students to have real conversation with a professor and also chat with fellow classmates. Formal Friday also gives students a variety of business opportunities.
At a spring event held last year, a photographer was present to take an individual picture for each student attendant. This picture was meant to be used as a profile picture for a LinkedIn account. This past fall, a NW business grad came and spoke about his job interviewing experiences. He gave tips about how to act in an interview, gave examples of questions one might want to ask a future employer and taught how to make a resume stand out.
“I think talking about interviewing was good,” Mallory Simmelink said. “It is something I will need to know for the future, and I think I really benefited from hearing it.”
Although guest speakers will not always be present at a Formal Friday event, each event will benefit students in a different way, even if it is simply socializing with others.
“It is a great experience for the students as these types of social events are quite common in business,” Professor Brandon Woudstra said. “Networking is a key business skill, and these events provide a little practice in a typical business environment.”
Overall, Formal Friday events have been a hit in the business department, yet the professors are trying to come up with more ways to draw in a larger student crowd.
“The department really enjoys planning and hosting each event, we enjoy being able to find a way to get to know our students even better,” Post said.
This month’s Formal Friday will take place at 3:30 p.m. today in the Vogel Community Room.