“As a writing and lit major, I find it easy to express myself on the page, but not in person.”
“When I go on an interview, I don’t want to sound pretentious.”
“I’m in the film industry, so I want to know how to pitch myself in networking events.”
These are some of the reasons students attended a 60-Second Pitch workshop provided by BMCC’s Center for Career Development, a campus support service for students “seeking guidance from successful role models, as they search for employment, investigate career paths, and work on their communication skills,” said the Center’s Coordinator, Driada Rivas.
“We provide workshops of this type, so students not only gain skills, but meet peers who are serious about employment and become part of their network,” she added.
The 60-Second Pitch workshop was led by Rochelle Hill, Senior VP at Merge Consumer Marketing, and Founder/CEO of Precision Plus Communications.
Hill also produces Pitches for Breakfast, an open mic forum for business and professional women of Pan-African descent. In this setting, participants present, in 60 seconds, their ideas, services, products or companies, and receive feedback from a panel of senior executives from a variety of industries.
Questions and answers
Throughout the 60-Second Pitch workshop, students shared their goals and fears.
“What would you most advise students who are nervous about getting out there in the job market?,” a young man asked.
“To fail,” Hill answered, “because the more you fail, the more you learn to overcome your fears. I figure out where I went wrong; maybe I wasn’t supposed to take that direction in the first place.”
When asked how she handles hostile or non-supportive professional environments, Hill suggested that, “You have to determine the temperature in the room. You have to listen more than speak. Ask yourself, 'Who’s in charge?', 'Who are the influencers in the room?' Remember, the person with the title might not to the one doing the work. Determine who seems approachable, and find an advocate in the room."
Another student mentioned his discomfort with the whole one-on-one interview dynamic.
“One of the things you want to do is not try to prove something to someone,” Hill advised. “Everybody needs help, so make sure they know you’re an asset, that you’re going to alleviate something for them. Let them know, they can benefit from hiring you.”
Pitching the room
Step-by-step, Hill led the students through the 60-Second Pitch process.
She started with the planning stage, in which “pitchers” review resources they have, or need.
Subsequent steps involve learning more about the company or person giving the interview, and constructing the pitch itself: three main points, as well as reasons why it is in the interviewer’s best interests to hire the applicant.
In breakout sessions, students prepared a pitch to be delivered by one group member, to the whole room.
Hill continued giving feedback throughout the presentations, such as, “If you don’t get the job, it’s okay to ask why, to get some pointers so you can make your next pitch even better.”
For more information on the 60-Second Pitch and how to find a Pitches for Breakfast event near you, click HERE.