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It Starts with a Handshake

Course, Subject

Home & Careers, Career Development and Occupational Studies

Grade Levels

Commencement, 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade


  • Students are assessed on interest and contributions during classroom discussions.
  • Students are assessed on participation in Business Day.


John D. Caminiti, Career and Technical Education, Broome-Delaware-Tioga BOCES, Binghamton.


2–3 class periods

Essential Question

How do I present myself to others?


Students will gain valuable knowledge of interpersonal skills, business dress, and personal grooming by examining their importance in modern careers.


  • Students are informed that beginning with “the interview,” interpersonal skills, business dress, and personal grooming are crucial aspects in successfully acquiring and keeping jobs.
  • Students are presented with the following points:
    • A proper handshake combined with a smile sets the stage for social and business interactions.
    • Kindness and generosity are traits that can be improved and developed on a continual basis.
    • Civility is always better than conflict.
    • Conveying a willingness to assist is essential in every occupation.
    • Personal hygiene and grooming must be impeccable and proper manners and etiquette are worth their weight in gold.
    • Proper business dress must begin with apparel that is clean and neat, and that reflects their chosen career.
    • Proper vocabulary and pronunciation must be combined with good grammar and taste.
    • Courtesy is a precious commodity.
  • Students discuss how each point relates to personal success in business. They are also asked to identify any points with which they disagree—and explain why. Students identify any other points they believe are critical aspects of interpersonal skills, business dress, and personal grooming.
  • Upon completion of the discussion, students agree upon a final set of critical points. Each student lists all points in a notebook for future reference.
  • One day is identified as “Business Day.” Each student identifies a preferred career and dresses in appropriate business dress. Additionally, students follow all the agreed-upon points (e.g., shaking hands when meeting others, being courteous, using proper grammar). In class, students discuss their feelings and reactions to Business Day and comment on whether there was a change in how others reacted to them.

Materials / Resources


  • Computer with Internet access
  • Library resources
  • School media center

Comments / Modifications

This activity is greatly enhanced if the teacher can provide real-life examples and humor during presentation. Instituting special days designated for dressing in business attire during the school year can reinforce activity.


Caminiti, John. “It Starts with a Handshake.” In Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Resource Guide with Core Curriculum. New York State Department of Education, 168.

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