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Competition Helps Students Create the Perfect Pitch

September 24, 2020

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, 42 students taking a personal selling course through the School of Business participated in the Perfect Pitch Competition, held in partnership with Automatic Data Processing, Inc., commonly known as ADP.

Dr. Monica Hodis, and several of the Perfect Pitch judges, on a Zoom screen.

This bi-annual competition (once in the spring and once in the fall semester) challenges students to deliver a 90-second “elevator pitch” on why they should be hired for the ADP inside sales representative position. This test of skill serves as the midterm for the course, which is taught by Dr. Monica Hodis, associate professor of marketing.

The perfect pitch is a real-world formative experience for students in the course, who come from a variety of majors and disciplines. The course teaches them how to highlight their strengths when interviewing with potential employers and gain confidence in their ability to sell.

“This course is very skill-focused; one of the areas we work on is the students’ ability to sell themselves to a potential employer and to change the way they tell their stories such that they can uniquely position themselves for a specific job,” said Hodis. “To prepare for the midterm competition, students go through an intense one-hour coaching session where they practice one-on-one with talented mentors from ADP. The feedback and interaction with sales professionals is invaluable career prep for our students and helps them refine the pitch and zero in what really matters when trying to get someone’s attention and interest in 90 seconds or less.”

This semester’s top performers were Jack Forrest ’20, Riley Moscicki ’21, Gianna Palma ’22, Gabrielle Rettberg ’22, Spencer Wall ’22, and Collin Weissenberger ’21. All were awarded bonus points for their performance and success on this assessment.

Historically, this is a face-to-face sales pitch, but this year the competition was held virtually through Zoom.

Five companies volunteered time and talent, acting as judges during the competition including Bobbi Carter, Nik Humphreys, Luke LeRoy, and Cassandra Taylor from ADP; Malcom Kelsey ’17 and Jordon Soukop from TekSystems; Anna Cuthbert ’17, Casey Cuthbert ’17, and Emma Neatrour ’15 from First American Equipment Finance; Matthew Delgado ’13, ’14 (MBA) from Constellation Brands; and Christian Gonzalez ’13 from Paychex.

For a student’s pitch to be compelling, they must demonstrate how their personal values and experiences align with the company and the desired characteristics of the ideal job candidate. Students are challenged to use specific examples that illustrate they are the right fit. To do this, they have to research the company and have a sense of its culture and be able to articulate how they would thrive in that environment. 

This was the first time Mary Crowley ’22 developed a pitch, and she said it helped her gain confidence in talking about her competencies. 

“I learned how to use my experiences to my advantage in relating it to how I would be an asset to a large company,” she said. “I was able to focus on my achievements and skills and build those into a perfect pitch. Being able to speak and tell a little bit of my story gave me more confidence than I thought and will make further pitches even easier to accomplish.”