Internships and other work experiences
Internships and other work experiences

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Internships and other work experiences

4.1 Elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is so called because you must deliver it in the amount of time it might take to travel between floors in a lift or elevator. That means it needs to be brief and to the point, explaining who you are, what you have to offer and what you are looking for.

Watch this video from Canada’s York Region Government showing you some of the dos and dont’s of an elevator pitch.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 7
Skip transcript: Video 7

Transcript: Video 7

INSTRUCTOR 1
Being a good networker is not something you're born with.
INSTRUCTOR 2
Like a flair for dance.
INSTRUCTOR 1
You might be familiar with the elevator pitch. But if you're not, here's the deal. It doesn't have to be an elevator the idea behind an elevator pitch is that you need to get out three important things quickly and concisely: content, delivery, and follow-up.
What I mean by this is know what you want to say and how you want to say it, and always remember to follow up.
INSTRUCTOR 2
Oh, do I get to speak now?
INSTRUCTOR 1
Let's just--
INSTRUCTOR 2
Take a look at an example.

[GRUNTS]

[SPEAKER 1 BUMPS INTO SPEAKER 2]

SPEAKER 1
Ooh, hi.
SPEAKER 2
Hi.
SPEAKER 1
You're Michael the marketing manager, right?
SPEAKER 2
Yeah. Do I know you?
SPEAKER 1
Not yet.

[TAKES SELFIE]

SPEAKER 2
Oh, whoa. Oh, I was unprepared for that.
SPEAKER 1
Hold tight.

[READS OFF CARD]

Hello. I've just finished a programme in marketing, and I am looking for employment. In brackets, turn card. Oh.
I'm an organised person, and I know how to use a calculator. Are you hiring? In brackets, end of speech.
INSTRUCTOR 1
Why would you show them that example?
INSTRUCTOR 2
Because I think she was wearing a fun top.
INSTRUCTOR 1
An elevator pitch really should only be 20 to 30 seconds long, and highlight things like accomplishments or your job history, or your strengths.
INSTRUCTOR 2
Well, she was outgoing.
INSTRUCTOR 1
Which is amazing. But there are things she could have done differently.
INSTRUCTOR 2
Like what?
INSTRUCTOR 1
Making eye contact, practicing her pitch ahead of time and not reading off cards. And she was way too close for comfort. And finishing with a firm handshake, always a great way to cap things off.
INSTRUCTOR 2
There actually is literally nothing I can think of that would have improved that scenario.
INSTRUCTOR 1
How are you working here?
INSTRUCTOR 2
Nepotism.
INSTRUCTOR 1
Let's just take another look at that scene.
SPEAKER 1
Hey.
SPEAKER 2
Hi.
SPEAKER 1
How are you enjoying the party so far?
SPEAKER 2
Oh, it's great. Yeah, it's good to get out and not feel like such a hermit all the time, you know. I've been really busy at work lately.
SPEAKER 1
What do you do?
SPEAKER 2
Oh, I'm a marketing manager.
SPEAKER 1
Oh, awesome. I'm in marketing, too.
SPEAKER 2
Oh, is that right?
SPEAKER 1
Yeah. My name's Kate.
SPEAKER 2
Oh, I'm Mike. Nice to meet you.
SPEAKER 1
Nice to meet you.
SPEAKER 2
So where do you work now?
SPEAKER 1
Currently, I'm looking. But it's always nice to meet people in a similar field.
SPEAKER 2
Absolutely.
SPEAKER 1
You know, I'd love to take you for a coffee sometime, maybe pick your brain about the field and what you're up to at work?
SPEAKER 2
Right. I'd like that. There you go.
SPEAKER 1
Oh, thank you.
SPEAKER 2
Look me up.
SPEAKER 1
I will.
SPEAKER 2
Mm-hmm.
INSTRUCTOR 1
So much better.
INSTRUCTOR 2
I saw no difference between those two examples. And we're at follow-up.
INSTRUCTOR 1
If you noticed, take out a business card, which means you can follow up and follow through.
INSTRUCTOR 2
All right, calm down.
INSTRUCTOR 1
In this instance, Kate is going to follow up with an in-person meeting instead of a phone call. And after that, she'll follow through with a thank you email. This is a great way of showing interest in a new contact, and could lead to a meeting or other opportunities with that person or even someone else.
INSTRUCTOR 2
I'm pretty sure you just described how dating works.
INSTRUCTOR 1
So just remember, content, delivery, and follow-up.
INSTRUCTOR 2
Is that it?
INSTRUCTOR 1
Yeah, we're done.
INSTRUCTOR 2
Want to go grab a coffee?
INSTRUCTOR 1
I would really rather not.
End transcript: Video 7
Video 7
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This is a useful technique to get right as you never know when a quick summary of your situation will be useful.

Activity 6 My elevator pitch

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes for this activity

In the box below, write five points that summarise what you want to cover in your elevator pitch. Remember the advice in the video about highlighting your accomplishments, your job history or your strengths. If you have a specific target or event in mind already, you could also tailor your points so that they are relevant to the individual or situation.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Now refine what you’ve listed so you can cover what you want to say in 20–30 seconds. Time yourself reading it out. If you’re feeling brave, record yourself on your phone and play it back.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

Did you manage to fit in everything you wanted to say? Did 30 seconds feel too long or not long enough? It doesn’t matter if you are a little over or under, the key is to make clear what you have to offer and what you want from them.

If you recorded your elevator pitch, perhaps you could show it to a trusted friend or colleague and ask for their feedback? Or better still, practise it in front of them.

It might be a bit much to ask the person you are speaking to for work experience in that first 30 seconds but it could be appropriate later in the conversation, particularly if they ask you what you do or what your future plans are.

Follow up

As the video mentioned, if you meet someone who you think will be a valuable connection, it is important to consolidate that connection by following up after the event. Make sure you end your conversation with a way to contact them – for example, ask for their business card or whether they are on LinkedIn.

Doyle (2019) offers the following tips:

  • follow up within 24 hours so they are more likely to remember you
  • mention a conversation from the event – also to jog their memory
  • offer to help – it’s always a good idea to offer something before asking for a favour
  • ask to meet up for a coffee – you might frame it as a chance to continue a conversation you were having at the event
  • connect with them on LinkedIn to further strengthen your professional relationship
  • edit, edit, edit – make sure your follow up communication doesn’t have any errors in it.

You’ll find out more about the nuances of networking with colleagues during your work experience, in Week 6.

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