First Impressions

You’ve only got one chance…

If you want to land that job, impress the potential in-laws or even make a good impression on your acquaintances, “manners matter,” said one etiquette expert at JCCC.

Mary Jean Billingsley, program director, learner engagement, will be teaching an etiquette seminar entitled First Impressions from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, and again Monday, Oct. 22 in Regnier Center 101D. Students are invited to register online.

Registration for the Sept. 26 dinner closes Thursday, Sept. 20. For the Oct. 22 event, participants may register until Oct. 16. The registration fee ($20) includes a four-course dinner.

Billingsley is certified by the Protocol School of Washington, D.C., recognized as one of the best protocol schools in the world. She attended an intensive five days of training with 30 U.S. and international participants, many of whom were government protocol officers.

During the dinner/seminar at JCCC, Billingsley will teach participants how to conduct business while engaging in conversation and eating soup correctly. She said many job interviews are conducted during a meal or social event, so knowing appropriate behavior can make the difference in a competitive job market.

However, don’t expect an evening of stuffy formality. “The training is done in a fun atmosphere where participants are encouraged to ask questions,” Billingsley said. Past participants have described the event as “warm, welcoming and funny.”

First Impression participants also will learn:

  • Business introductions
  • Internet etiquette, including those questionable personal Facebook and Twitter posts
  • Business correspondence
  • Savvy on the golf course
  • The importance of the thank-you note
  • The proper way to give a handshake
  • The protocol for giving a toast

The participants will also learn the No. 1 rule of etiquette: making other people feel comfortable.

“That’s more important than using the right fork,” Billingsley said.


Billingsley will be the subject of an upcoming program that highlights JCCC faculty and staff called “JCCC Voices,” to be aired on the college’s television station and YouTube Channel.  Billingsley discusses the First Impressions seminar in the clip on this page.

Audio track of video:

You know we had – I think it was in 1999 – we had a student working with us who had attended a career services program on dining etiquette, and she had just really loved it and thought maybe it was something we could bring to our campus. And so we said, “Well, let’s check it out.” And we took it to our advisory board of employers and said, “Do you think this is needed?” And they said, “Oh yes, please do this for the students.” So we began offering it in 1999.