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Elevator Pitch for Students: Guide and Top Tips

Introducing yourself appropriately and in a pleasant manner can set the stage for professional conversations.  Whether those conversations occur at a networking event, at an interview, or with a colleague, it is important to be able to always present yourself in the best light.  One of the most popular means of introducing yourself and setting a professional stage is called an elevator pitch.

Elevator pitches are simple, yet effective, ways to provide a quick summary of yourself.  An elevator pitch for students is a perfect way to provide a new contact with a brief, succinct overview of your accomplishments and plans for the future.  Having an effective elevator pitch can not only set the stage for the conversation but can also help to open up new opportunities and career advancements.

What is an Elevator Pitch?

Quite simply, an elevator pitch for students or professionals, is a quick summary of yourself.  Elevator pitches are named for the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator from the bottom to the top of a building, roughly 30-seconds or 75-words.

An elevator pitch is meant to be an introduction of yourself and a way to sell yourself professionally.  Your elevator pitch should be succinct and should be refined.  This will allow you to make your elevator pitch easily and without a feeling of nervousness or anxiety.

Why Are Elevator Pitches for Students Important?

Elevator pitches are extremely useful to have ready especially for the interview process.  Whether a phone interview or an in-person one, you will need to be prepared to discuss, and provide, a summary of who you are and what you are looking to accomplish.

An elevator pitch will help you to provide a comprehensive summary of your background, particularly for the work you accomplished in college and the courses you took which were most beneficial to your future career goals.  The elevator pitch is also helpful in formulating a good response to the, “tell me about yourself” question so commonly asked in interviews.

Another great benefit of having an elevator pitch, especially as a student, is that you will be prepared to discuss who you are, and what your qualifications are, when an opportunity presents itself.  Whether you’re in line at a Starbucks or at your local grocery store, you never know who you may meet and what opportunities may present themselves.

Lastly, in discussing the importance of an elevator pitch as a student, it is helpful to understand that having an elevator pitch allows you to take control of the conversation.  You will be able to eloquently, and succinctly, explain who you are and what your goals are.  This will help to set the tone for the conversation and will allow you to appear as a more buttoned-up individual.

Elevator Pitch for Students

Writing an Elevator Pitch

In general, when coming up with an elevator pitch, you should look to answer the following questions – who are you, what do you do, and what do you want?  While these are broad questions, they should be related to your current circumstance and overall career ambitions.

As a college or high school student, coming up with an elevator pitch will be surrounded by your current studies and areas of focus.  As you will most likely not have a career at that point, you will also look to discuss what your career ambitions are and what your plans are to reach that ambition.

Outline the Pitch

  • Who Am I – begin by telling the recruiter or hiring manager your name, your year in school, and what your major is. You should also list anything else unique about yourself and your major of study.
  • What Can I Offer – Next, discuss your accomplishments, skills, and experience that would be most relevant to the company or job you are speaking to. Be sure to include ‘evidence’ through projects you’ve completed, classes you’ve taken, jobs you’ve interned at, and other research, services, and leadership activities you’ve completed.
  • Why I’m Here – A crucial piece of the elevator pitch is identifying why you’re there. When speaking to a recruiter or hiring manager at a career fair, you should tell the recruiter what it is that you are seeking.  Be sure to include your interest in the company and how your skills and experiences align with what they are looking for.
  • Conclusion and Hope in What Happens – As a conclusion, indicate what you would like the end-result of your meeting to be. Is it an interview?  To connect on LinkedIn?  Whatever it is, be sure to state it and end with a question that invites the recruiter to join the conversation.

How to Give an Elevator Pitch at a Career Fair
How to Give an Elevator Pitch at a Career Fair

Always Start with an Introduction

Before jumping into the elevator pitch, you should always begin by stating your full name and an enthusiastic greeting.  This helps to ease the flow of the conversation and your elevator pitch.  As you introduce yourself, go in for a handshake and be sure to smile throughout.

Provide Context on What You Do

Generally, as a rule of thumb, after introducing yourself, you should provide a quick summary of what you do.  As a student, this will mainly focus on your schooling and coursework.  However, it can be qualified with additional, relevant information.  This can include any clubs, teams, fraternities or sororities you may have been a part of.

When giving a brief summary on your background, you should only include the most relevant information.  In addition, you should focus on your strengths and any items that are most critical to your success and future plans.  You may also opt to write down a list of this information and choose the topics which are most important from there.

As an example, you may utilize the below:

“Hi, my name is Robert and it is an absolute pleasure meeting you!  I am currently a college senior at Rutgers University where I am pursuing a double-major in economics and political science.  In addition to my regular schoolwork, I am active in the local Humane Society and enjoy volunteering at the hospital near campus.”

Elevator Pitch for Students

Begin Explaining What You Want

No elevator pitch is fully complete without mention of what your plans are and what you want your future to look like.  This is especially important as a college or high school student, where your future career and career goals are not yet set in stone.  As-such, you may have more flexibility and leeway in positing career goals that others may consider lofty or unrealistic.

When you get to this portion of the elevator pitch, you should consider it the “ask”.  In essence, here you will begin selling yourself on what you want.  Again, this can vary from person-to-person, but generally it can be an internship, a job, an introduction, or a simple connection.  You should also focus this section on what you can offer and what skills you bring to the table.

If we look back at our original example:

“Hi, my name is Robert and it is an absolute pleasure meeting you!  I am currently a college senior at Rutgers University where I am pursuing a double-major in economics and political science.  In addition to my regular schoolwork, I am active in the local Humane Society and enjoy volunteering at the hospital near campus.

 

I am actively interested in the work done by your law firm and the civil rights issues you focus on.  I would love the opportunity to put my education and passion to work, specifically for your company.”

Finish the Conversation with a Call to Action

The purpose of an elevator pitch for students is to get your foot in the door at a company.  Whether that be for a full-time or part-time job or internship.  As-such, when you make your elevator pitch, you should always close with a call to action.

A call to action, quite simply, is a means to prompt an immediate response from an individual or group of people.  as you are giving a pitch, you will want to end with a call to action, allowing the individual you are speaking with to provide you with the requested opportunity.

Simply because you are having a discussion or conversation with an individual does not guarantee that the call to action will stick or be received well.  Many times, the call to action will actually be rejected or quietly denied.  Although this is a risk in any pitch, it is one you should become comfortable with.  Rejection is a part of life and something that all people face.

 

If we look back at our original example:

“Hi, my name is Robert and it is an absolute pleasure meeting you!  I am currently a college senior at Rutgers University where I am pursuing a double-major in economics and political science.  In addition to my regular schoolwork, I am active in the local Humane Society and enjoy volunteering at the hospital near campus.

 

I am actively interested in the work done by your law firm and the civil rights issues you focus on.  I would love the opportunity to put my education and passion to work, specifically for your company.  Would you be amiable to a quick call next week for us to discuss any upcoming opportunities on the team?”

 

If they agree to your call to action, thank them for their time and get their contact information.  You should end the conversation with a polite, “thank you so much for your time and the opportunity to discuss the work you are doing.  I will send you an email follow-up to confirm our meeting for later this week.”

If they do not agree with your call to action, a simple “I understand and thank you for your time.  If it’s alright with you, would you be willing to connect over LinkedIn?  Perhaps we can find a better time to discuss at a later date.”

 

Tips for Elevator Pitch for Students

Taking the time to develop an elevator pitch is important for any student.  Your elevator pitch will help you to introduce yourself and create a connection that can be mutually beneficial.  As a rule of thumb, your elevator pitch should be no longer than 30-seconds and should follow a coherent flow.

Conduct Thorough Research: while you may be tempted to wing-it and attend a career fair without research, we highly recommend against it.  Career fairs are typically teeming with employers, hiring managers, and other students looking to land a competitive internship, interview, or full-time position.

Before the career fair, you should research the companies and employers whom are expected to be in attendance.  You should research what positions they currently have available and which ones you would be most interested in.  in addition, you should research the company and have a baseline understanding of what they provide and what they are looking for in an employee.

Prepare Your Outfit: Now, career fairs aren’t interviews, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress to impress.  When preparing for an upcoming career fair, you should assemble a wardrobe that is presentable, professional, and business-like.  You will likely be judged based on your initial meeting and do not want to squander an opportunity due to a lack of appropriate attire.

In general, when attending a career fair, you will want to dress in a business professional attire.  This means dress pants, dress shirt, and a tie for men and slacks and a blouse coupled with a sweater or business jacket for women.

How to Give an Elevator Pitch at a Career Fair

Prepare Your Resume: Your resume is your single best source for landing an interview and creating new opportunities.  Your resume is meant to be a succinct reflection of your previous work history and your educational attainments.

Before attending a career fair, you will want to prepare your resume.  This means updating your work and educational history to reflect any recent changes.  In addition, as a student, it is important to input your expected date of graduation.  This will help potential employers with assessing your candidacy and likelihood of accepting a full-time, part-time, or internship position.

In addition to reviewing your resume, it may be helpful to have a trusted friend, family member, or school counselor review and complete a second look.  This will help you to ensure that there are no typos, grammatical errors, or mistakes which you may have overlooked.

Lastly, it may be a good idea to print your resume on resume paper.  Resume paper is typically thicker and more professional than regular printer paper and will help you to better stand-out and appear more professional.

You should also practice your elevator pitch out loud.  This will help you to understand the inflection in your tone and to ensure that you don’t mumble or stutter on your words.  Feel free to practice your elevator pitch on a close friend or family member.  When practicing, be sure to make the word-flow sound and feel natural.  You don’t want to sound scripted as you give your pitch.

Although you should try to keep the pitch to under 30-seconds, you should take your time in how you deliver your pitch.  You don’t want to rush through it and not allow the other party to partake in the conversation.  As you make your pitch, be sure to keep the other party involved and engaged, allowing them time to respond to what you are saying.

Lastly, be sure to exude confidence in your pitch and yourself.  You should give a firm handshake, speak clearly and directly, and have a good, solid understanding of what you offer and what you are looking for.

 

Sample Elevator Pitches

Example 1:

Hi, I’m Robert Moses. I am a Senior Economics major in the ABC School of Business completing a track in International Economics. Last summer I interned with Goldman Sachs as a Summer Analyst in the Derivatives Product Group.

I’m now interested in pursuing a year-long internship position with Morgan Stanley in mergers and acquisitions where I can utilize my communication skills and solid quantitative abilities.

My experience as a student athlete at ABC School has helped me to develop a strong teamwork ethic, time management skills and the ability to stay calm under pressure and these abilities will help me to be successful in a financial services career.

Can you describe some common projects an intern would get to work on in the Sales and Trading division?

Example 2:

Hi, my name is Robert Moses and I will be starting my junior year as a marketing major in the School of Social Sciences with an interest in project management. I am also the President of the undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association.

I’m very interested in gaining experience in product and project development with a firm such as yours, which continues to set the industry standard for successful project management ideals and principles. I’d like to learn more about internship opportunities within your organization.”

Example 3:

Hey, my name is Robert Moses and I am a graduating Public Health major with a concentration in healthcare management.  During my tenure at Emory University, I have been at the forefront of public health education, starting an initiative to help my fellow classmates get tested for common sexually transmitted diseases.

During this initiative, I have learnt a great deal when it comes to public health awareness and campaigns.  This initiative has piqued my interest in furthering public health awareness and campaigns.  I understand that your company has recently launched a public health initiative for at-risk teens.  How is that campaign progressing?

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