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Elevator Pitch Workshop

“Tell me about yourself.” We’ve all been asked to do this whether it be at networking events, interviews, or with professors. Yet what to say in response to this prompt is often difficult to decipher. This week, Erin Fields Saddler and Camille Burt from the Office of Career Services taught us how to perfect our elevator pitch through an interactive workshop.

Erin Fields Saddler and Camille Burt presenting to AMA members!

To start off, what exactly is an elevator pitch? An elevator pitch is a ready to go 60-second commercial to introduce yourself to someone in any professional networking situation. It is usually the first thing you say to potential employers, corporate partners, or peers when networking so it is crucial to make a good first impression.

Here is a five step formula to building the perfect elevator pitch:

1. Name, major, & class year

Start off with the basics about yourself to build a foundation upon which you can elaborate later. Employers will want to know your major and class year to determine whether you are looking for internships or full-time roles.

2. Relevant work experience/internship

Next, go into professional experiences whether it is through internships, clubs, or school projects that relate to your desired field. Be sure to quantify your achievements whenever possible and explain what you took away from each experience. Don’t sell yourself short. Even if you do not have industry experience, tell them about clubs, volunteer experience, school projects, sports, or any other job that you’ve held and how those skills will transfer back to your desired industry.

3. Relevant extracurricular activities/accomplishments

Here is where you want to set yourself apart from the other candidates and bring up topics that spark conversation. An elevator pitch is not all about internships and schoolwork so be sure to make it fun! Mention niche hobbies and interests, movies you’ve recently enjoyed, upcoming travel plans, or anything else that you feel makes you unique.

4. What type of job are you looking for/interest in the company

Be transparent with the person you are talking to about what you’re looking to get out of the conversation. Let them know if you are looking for an internship, full-time job, or just searching for more information about the company. Be sure to mention why you are interested in their specific company.

5. Leading question about the company or position when relevant

Keep the conversation going! Ending with a question involves the other person in the conversation instead of making them feel like they are being talked at. Ask about open positions, their careers, company values, or anything else that you’d like to know.

Here is an example of how to put all of these steps together:

"Hi, my name is Sandra and I am a Marketing student at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and I'll be graduating in May 2024. I have always had an interest in fashion and enjoy reading fashion magazines and blogs. After completing a four-week long school project where I created a styling tips guide, I sharpened my creativity skills while also learning how to use Photoshop.

From there I was able to take a lead role in my school's annual fashion show charity event to craft all the marketing and outreach material like flyers, posters, pre-event trailers, for which we had over 600 community guests and $4,000 in ticket sales, all donated to the Illinois homeless women's foundation. I am looking for a summer internship in the fashion industry where I can help a marketing team by using my creativity and Photoshop skills. Do you have/know of any open internships?"

Additional tips:

1. Do your homework when possible

Research the company you are speaking to beforehand and be knowledgeable on what they do and what positions they currently have open.

2. Remember to speak slowly

We tend to speed up our speech when we get excited or nervous but be sure that you are talking slowly so that the other person can fully grasp what you are saying.

3. Avoid sounding robotic and remember to make eye contact and smile

While you should definitely practice your pitch, don’t memorize it. Memorized pitches sound robotic and unenthusiastic which is not the impression you want to give to employers. Remember, it’s just a conversation so keep it casual and smile!

4. Practice

Practice is key! Once you decide what you want to say in your pitch practice in front of a mirror and in front of your friends. They’ll be able to give you pointers so you can correct any mistakes before saying your elevator pitch to employers.

5. Avoid rambling

The biggest mistake that students make when giving their elevator pitch is rambling. Remember, your pitch should be about 60 seconds long. Employers have a lot of students to speak to so you don’t want to be holding up the line. You can always circle back and speak to them again later in the session or follow up via email or LinkedIn.

After the networking event, it’s always best practice to send employers that you spoke to a follow-up email or LinkedIn message. Remind them what you talked about and share what you are looking to get out of the connection. If you are interested in a specific role at their company, attach your resume so they can pass it on to the recruiter.

As students in the Smith School of Business, we have access to endless career resources. Be sure to check out tips, templates, and guides on HireSmith, follow the Office of Career Services on Instagram @smithocsterps and visit the Office of Career Services in VMH 2520.

Special thank you to Erin Fields Saddler and Camille Burt from the Office of Career Services for hosting this workshop with our UMD AMA members!

- Rumi Petrova

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