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My “elevator pitch” actually helped me land my first job out of college. One of my professors had made us write them in class, and I thought the exercise was silly, but it was actually useful.
Shortly before graduation, I was at a networking event where several alumni were present, and I ended up meeting the guy who would end up hiring me. He asked me what kind of work I did, and as I was responding to him, I realized that I was delivering the pitch I’d written for class.
How should college students create an elevator pitch? Is there a word count to know?
It’s called an “elevator pitch” for a reason — you’re supposed to be able to deliver the entire thing during an elevator ride. So that means it should be no longer than 45 seconds to a minute. Any longer than that and you’ll be talking too much.
As long as you describe what you do and what you hope to achieve, that should be long enough.
What would be good points for college students to include?
Think about ~why~ you are interested in a certain line of work. Aside from the paycheck, what do you hope to get out of a job? This is an opportunity to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
When I hire interns, I always ask candidates why they are interested in design. If someone tells me that they got into design because they love colors and textures, I’m not going to hire them. But if they tell me that they want to improve peoples’ lives through design, then they have my attention.
What are your three top tips for college students who are making an elevator pitch?
Make it brief. No one wants to sit through a 15-minute speech.
Make it conversational. You shouldn’t sound like you’re pitching to Mark Cuban on “Shark Tank”.
Make it authentic. People can smell when you’re being yourself and when you’re acting. Don’t try to be anyone you’re not.
Do you have advice for saying your elevator pitch?
Be confident. The point is to explain why you’re a valuable resource. If you aren’t confident in your own value, you’re going to have a tough time convincing someone else that you’d be a strong addition to their team.
When is it helpful to use one?
You never know when your elevator pitch might come in handy, but you should always have it in your back pocket in case you run into someone who works in your industry.
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