The idea of this event is to practice pitching yourself to potential employers in under a minute. Not an easy task by any means. How would you describe your career goals to a complete stranger? First of all, the person you are talking to should not be a stranger. You should at least research who you’re interviewing with to be better prepared. If you don’t know the person you want to pitch yourself to, as was the case in this event, politely introduce yourself and make that connection with the person.
At the Career Action Program Conference the students learned the importance of Elevator Speeches and how they allow us to make the right impression. An elevator speech is a short (30-60 second) sound bite that succinctly and memorably introduces yourself. It spotlights your uniqueness and focuses on the benefits you provide. A successful elevator speech should be delivered effortlessly. There are 5 components to a successful elevator speech:
- Introduce yourself. Hello, my name is _________.
- What you are passionate about. Involvement in job or organizations.
- Why you’re the best at what you do. Differentiate yourself with experience.
- What you are trying to achieve. Job, internship, networking.
I’d say that the event went very well. Business professionals from several companies including UTSA were in attendance. Each student was given the opportunity to meet with these representatives and pitch themselves. All of the students seemed as though they had practiced, it was a little intimidating at first. Some of the advice we were given was to just know yourself and what you want to say. After delivering my elevator speech a handful of times, my speech noticeably became more comfortable and confident. After all I am a full-time student and a member of several organizations, so I should have a lot to talk about. By the end of the event, my final elevator speech sounded something like this:
Hello, my name is Taylor Henderson. I am a Junior at the University of Texas at San Antonio, specializing in marketing. Along with a full class schedule, I’ve joined several professional business organizations at UTSA, two of which I hold leadership positions. Being an active member in these organizations has certainly allowed me to work with a wide range of individuals, as well as manage time between several responsibilities. I am currently seeking an internship or entry level position with your company, I’d like to discuss potential opportunities with you at your convenience. How might an ambitious worker like myself benefit from working with your company?
Next on the agenda for the Career Action Program was the group mock interview. I took this event very seriously, as I do all my interviews. Being a member of Alpha Kappa Psi has allowed me to develop my interviewing skills, which I am very proud of. The most important component of any interview is merely being prepared. So I prepared by reviewing common interview questions. At the Conference the students were actually given a binder with a list of interview questions. I put two and two together and decided it would be best to study those questions. I’m able to
I made sure to arrive at the event 15 minutes before it was scheduled. In my experience, it is much more advantageous to be early as opposed to just on time. Being early allowed me to gather myself, as well as get to know some of my fellow students. We are all enrolled in the same Management class at UTSA, so I politely initiated conversation that we could all relate too. I saw the time before the event as a great opportunity to network and practice my elevator speech.
This event consisted of about 50 students in all and about 10 separate tables. Each table was assigned 5 students and a table captain who was volunteering from a local company. The day before the event, each student was emailed the representative that was assigned to their table. I was assigned to table 8 with Shawn Morris from Service Uniform. At that point I researched the company my representative worked for. Like I said, preparation is the key to a successful interview. I don’t expect to work for Service Uniform, but at least I have a general idea of the company and can bring that knowledge to the interview.
I had a great interview with three of my fellow students. Mr. Morris held a very constructive interview. He allowed all of us to give each other feed back on our answers. I have actually had experience interviewing individuals, so I think I was able to pass along some useful advice. The only criticism Mr. Morris specifically gave me was the fact that I was very straight forward and professional with my answers and examples. He asked me if “I was a fun person to be around?” to which I replied “I’d like to think so.” He told me that I should relax and let my answers flow more smoothly. I completely understood his point and I actually see it as a compliment. Being a member of Alpha Kappa Psi has ingrained this professionalism in me and I am proud of that.
After the interview we were asked if we had any questions for our interviewer. None of the other students really had anything to say, but I had tons of questions. I only got to ask one. I asked,”How has your degree in marketing lead you to where you are today?” He literally said “That’s a very good question” and he continued to tell his story of working his way up through several companies. I felt a very strong connection with Mr. Morris. He helped me very much in his interview and his story was very inspiring to me. I gave him a copy of my resume and told him to expect a connection from me on LinkedIn. He recommended a book for me to read, which I’m glad to say is on the way. I learned very much in the hour and a half this event lasted and I’m looking forward to the next event: Speed Networking.
The Conference lasted a total of 8 hours! I didn’t even get 8 hours of sleep last night, more like 4. Like I had anticipated, the CAP Conference was very informative. We (the students) were given the tools necessary for “Becoming a Professional” and “Making the Right Impression in 30 Seconds”. I noticed that the exercises and lectures were primarily geared toward networking. I’ve come to understand how important networking is and I think the Conference did a good job at emphasizing that.
There were volunteers from companies such as Tesoro Corporation, USAA, Aerotek and Medtronic in attendance at the conference. I am glad to say that I saw many potential internship and job opportunities. I’m seriously considering applying for an internship with Tesoro Corporation. I think it’s the recruiter that sold it for me. She seemed genuinely happy with the company and talked about it with such grace that I had to take a second look.
Tesoro Corporation is an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products. Tesoro operates a total of seven refineries in the western United States, with a combined capacity of approximately 675,000 barrels per day. Tesoro’s retail-marketing system includes over 1,375 branded retail stations, of which over 590 are company operated under the Tesoro®, Shell® and USA Gasoline™ brands. Her presentation also went over the core values of the corporation: Respect, Integrity, Safety and Environment. All of these values are important to me as well, so I believe I would be a good fit for this organization.
The Career Action Program (CAP) gives business students 15 hours of practice in professional interviewing, introductions networking and business etiquette Ideally, students should complete CAP at the beginning of their junior year in preparation for internships and career placement. A survey showed that 99% of participants strongly agreed that CAP helped them to be more fully prepared to enter the job market.
Not The HEB Cap We’re Talking About
I didn’t just make you read this far because I think CAP is a neat program. Ironically enough, I begin my CAP journey tomorrow. I view this as a great opportunity for me to enhance my knowledge of interviewing and networking. I’m in a professional business fraternity, so I’ve been through my fair share of interviews. I’m also a marketing major, so I feel twice as compelled to stand out while I’m at these events. Who knows? I might meet my future employer there.
Once I complete this program it is my mission to attain an internship. I’m not a risk taker. I’m not gambling on the uncertainty of not having a job once I graduate. Acquiring an internship is the most challenging goal I have ever set for myself, and this is where it starts.
Tomorrow I will be attending the CAP Conference located at The Vista at Valero Energy in San Antonio. This event is mandatory for everyone in the Career Action Program, so I’m anticipating quite a crowd. Local business leaders will be hosting workshops where students (including me) will learn valuable knowledge about how to prepare during college in order to stand out in the future.
I’m excited to get started. This is the first of three events! I’ll update my journey as it unfolds! You have to admit, It’s a pretty neat program.