I have been to countless workshops on networking, resume building, and general job hunt help. Many of these workshops have spent some time on stressing the importance of what was called a “30 second elevator pitch”. I’d like to give a brief description of what this is for those of you who don’t know.
The 30 second elevator pitch is a short speech that a person should develop that tells a bit about themselves, their prior work experience, and what their immediate goals are for their career (full time job, internship, etc.). While I won’t be taking this time to help you go through the steps to create your elevator pitch (there are plenty of sites for that), I will try to help you utilize this in the best way possible.
In my experience, the most important thing to think about and practice before even developing your pitch is to practice public speaking or speaking to strangers. For myself, I had much experience with this while working at the Apple Store for 1.5 years. This is an essential skill; being able to walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation without feeling nervous takes practice. You should find ways to practice this and any other public speaking. I’m sure that you will encounter many opportunities for public speaking throughout your college career, some of which may be mandatory.
Now, developing your pitch is important. You do want to do as all of these sites say. You are to describe yourself, tell a story, use action words, state what it is you are looking for. But the thing that most sites and people don’t tell you is that this is not a completely one-way conversation. This is where we come to my advice. When developing your pitch, I suggest you find points in your pitch that are good breaking points to give a small pause to let the person to whom you are giving the pitch respond. When you walk up to someone at a career fair or conference you should look at it less like time that you need to tell someone all about yourself, and rather look at it as a conversation during which you persuade someone to be interested in hiring you.
Successfully making this change to your pitch can be difficult and requires a different skill: reading people. In order to make this effective you must be watching the person you are talking to very closely and try and sense their reaction. One way you can practice this is to try with a friend and think about what topics are very interesting and may prompt a reaction from the recruiter to whom you are speaking. I feel it’s important to not only talk about work experience, school work, and projects. I think that this is a time to tell the recruiter things that aren’t on your resume; things about you personally. When I give my pitch, I usually mention how I was in Marching Band and Pep Band. Upon stating this, I know that I will get some sort of reaction, because this is something that most people don’t say. Usually, this prompts some sort of question from the recruiter about what instrument I played or something to that effect. Sometimes, something like this can establish some common ground between you and the recruiter. I believe it’s important to find something that you can mention that is different and intriguing. It is important to generate genuine interest and having something personal that you can speak about is very good; it separates you from the crowd.
I hope this helps anyone who is trying to find an internship or full time job. So far, it has helped me! Good luck!