Professionalism Proves to be Charming

TEC News Stories

11/8/2011 4:08:00 PM

Story Highlights

By: Lyndsey Taylor

Urbana, Ill.-(November 8, 2011). More than 75 students traded in their Halloween costumes for business casual attire at the Technology Entrepreneur Center’s Charm School.

The Activities and Recreation Center housed the business etiquette event the last Saturday of October, where 10 guest speakers came to educate Illinois students on professionalism.

Charm School covered different types of business etiquette, including professional wardrobe, office leadership, personal branding, interview skills and a how-to on business luncheons.  

Terra Patient, store manager at The Limited talked about women's business wardrobe, touching on appropriate clothing for business casual and business professional. 

Patient encouraged students to dress nicely even when not at the office. Representation is important outside of the work place as well, she said.

“I wanted to get more in-depth knowledge of how to represent myself,” said junior in materials science and engineering Shakela Richardson. She said she signed up in order to learn more about networking.

Kirstin Phelps, Illinois Leadership Center program director, spoke to students about what it takes to become a leader in the work place, including how to practice problem solving and taking initiative.

“You always have an influence on the group that you are a part of,” Phelps said.

She also shared the quote “Leadership is the most observed, yet least understood phenomena on Earth,” in her presentation.

Graduate student Fangalin Lu said she signed up for Charm School because she wanted to learn more about how to find a job and the working environment.

Gordon Tracey, store manager of Joseph Kuhn and Co., spoke to students on appropriate men’s attire. Tracey talked about how to dress on a budget, and said versatility and quality are two of the most important factors when creating a professional wardrobe.

“I’ve never been in the corporate environment, so it’s been nice to see what it’s like,” said Nick Galloway, freshman in computer science.

Social Media Strategist Barbara Maldonado inspired Charm School attendees by telling her personal story on her career path. When she lost her job, Maldonado began using social media as a way to branch out and find her next career move.

“Develop the story of who you are,” was part of Maldonado’s advice. She told students to find a way to tell their own unique stories on how they chose their fields of study as a means of showing potential employers how they stand out in a crowd.

Maldonado currently works at Legacy Marketing Partners in Chicago and has more than 10 years of experience in marketing.

She advised students to “Google” themselves frequently, as it’s important to know what people are saying about them and to know what information is out there about them.

Updating information online is of equal importance, she said. Maldonado also gave tips for how to make Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Skype accounts business appropriate.

Resume and cover letter writing with Sarah Zehr, Director of Engineering Career Services, taught students how to represent themselves well on paper. 

It’s important to put education at the top of the resume and highlight the experience that pertains most to the job you’re applying for, she said.  Proofreading and tailoring cover letters to each specific company are also on Zehr’s professional bucket list.

Lunch was held in one of ARC’s muti-purpose rooms in a formal setting. Business Etiquette Consultant, Beth Reutter taught attendees how to properly use utensils, make casual conversation and make toasts at a business luncheon.

“It’s quite interesting. There are a lot of details that go into fine dining,” said senior Adash Hasija. “She (Ruetter) saved me a lot of embarrassment in the future.”

About TEC
The Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC) is an interdisciplinary program in the College of Engineering  at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign engaging a vast pool of faculty, students, and alumni to provide the education, experiences, and resources that students need to become innovative leaders and empower them to change the world around them. Created in 2000 to highlight the University’s rich history and culture of innovation, the TEC continues to inspire its engineering students to become the next generation of world-changing visionaries, leaders and entrepreneurs.  This is accomplished through its courses, venture and product competitions, workshops, and other curricular and extra-curricular events that expose students to the complex concepts inherent in the simultaneous processes of technology innovation and market adoption. The Center offers on-site and online certificate programs for education and professional development and hosts outreach activities for students and alumni. The TEC also administers the annual V. Dale Cozad New Venture Competition and the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Illinois Student Prize for innovation, among several other programs.

For more information about TEC and the programs they offer, visit their website: or email Danyelle Michelini at

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