Standing out from among the best

I was recently asked what a student must do to stand out from among the best. Some of my comments will appear in PRomo, the Rowan University PRSSA publication (Public Relations Student Society of America). To comment:

They must be the total package:

  • When meeting a professional, a student must give an outstanding first impression. That would include a businesslike appearance, firm handshake while looking the person in the eye, being an articulate and eloquent oral communicator and a strategic planner with outstanding writing skills.
  • In addition to crafting an effective resume, students should develop a compelling personal elevator speech, which summarizes who they are, what professors and other professionals think about them, their ambitions and why they should get the internship or the job.

It is important that the Rowan student conclude the elevator speech with another firm handshake as he/she hands the person being addressed a business card containing their name and contact information.

A student’s goal is not only making an outstanding first impression, but also a lasting impression – one that a prospective employer won’t soon forget – particularly if the “right fit” position opens.

SEE BELOW from Prof. Litwin’s book The ABCs of Strategic Communication:

An elevator speech is a strategic message delivered quickly and simply

(no more than 30 seconds – about the duration of an elevator ride) that

communicates a brand promise, mission or other main element about

you or your organization. The elevator speech or “pitch” must be clear

and concise and communicate the core aspects of your business – touch

briefly on the products or services you sell, what market you serve, and

your competitive advantage. It must be brief and clear. Employees and

stakeholders should know their organization’s elevator speech.


If the elevator speech is about you, identify your personal attributes and

quickly explain their benefits – benefits that might just get you a job or promotion.

According to author and business coach, Rhonda Abrams, it takes quite

a bit of thinking and practicing to decide what to mention in an elevator

speech. Because it must be short, you have to decide what must be left out.

“Often,” she says, “these can be the things you are most excited about.”


You’ll find you use your elevator speech more than just in elevators. Says

Abrams, “You will turn that 30-second speech into e-mails to prospective

customers and investors, to introduce yourself at organizational meetings

or when running into an old friend at a ballgame. Who knows? You may

even use it if you meet a potential customer in an elevator.


“So,” she advises, “go out and find a three-story building with an elevator,

ride up and down and practice your pitch. That way, you’ll be prepared

the next time someone asks you, ‘What do you do?’”

                                                            Sample Elevator Speech

Rowan University is a dynamic Top Tier regional university serving

high-achieving students through a combination of teaching,

research and project-based learning. The school’s reputation for

academic distinction is aided by its small class size, focus on interdisciplinary work and technologically advanced facilities.

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