“Tell me about yourself” can be some of the most daunting words to hear in a conversation.

About a semester before my graduation, a family friend asked me how my academic experience can be applied to the professional world. I just froze at that moment. I did not have an answer, or at least I had thought so.

With college, internships, jobs, and volunteering, it is easy to assume I would have an answer. And, like everyone else, I have interests and passions, so I knew what to say! It was just a matter of knowing how to say it. That is where an elevator pitch comes in handy.

An elevator pitch is like a personal mission statement; it is a brief and compelling way of introducing who you are, your expertise, and how that allows you to assist individuals, employers, businesses, and organizations.

An effective pitch can provide your employer with more information about your skills and knowledge, but it may also give them insight as to what valuable perspective you may offer, especially if their organization or business emphasizes interdisciplinary practices. An example of this would be a data scientist providing ways her expertise can benefit an environmental organization focused on water quality.

Organizing years of experience, knowledge, and skills into a brief statement can help you gain a sense of clarity by reminding you of your accomplishments, goals, and passions; it serves as a motivation!

Common Situations for Elevator Pitch

While an elevator pitch may seem like something fancy businesspeople do, it is not restricted to solely suit-and-tie situations. As a matter of fact, you’ve probably been doing them quite often without even knowing it. Whether it’s your first day of class, you’ve joined a new organization, or you’re meeting a new friend, there are many situations that call for introducing yourself, such as:

  • Writing a cover letter
    Instead of delivering your elevator pitch orally, cover letters act as a written form of communicating how your education, skills and experience specifically match the needs of an employer.
  • During an interview
    During interviews, it is common for interviewees to start with a “Tell Me About Yourself” prompt.
  • At a conference
    If you are a student at a conference, a professional may inquire about your major, passions, and interests. At my first conference, I was asked about my political science and sustainability studies major, and how it can be useful for mitigating water quality issues.
  • Chatting with mentors or professors
    If you are trying to find research or opportunities with a professor, it is important to be able to tell your professor why your expertise would make you a great fit for the position.
  • Giving a presentation
    For some professional or research presentations, you may introduce yourself and your respective experience to demonstrate your credibility when presenting on a given topic.
  • Talking to family and friends
    To spare you from the hassle on family holidays, I recommend having an elevator pitch ready to answer any questions about college and professional plans – especially if you are an undergraduate student.

It is important to note that as there are different types of elevator pitches, you may have to modify your pitch depending on the job or position you are applying for, or the type of connection you are aiming to make.

Additionally, an elevator pitch may take the form of a back-and-forth conversation, instead of introducing yourself in a brief manner. It is important to get to know the other person and ask questions. At this point, you are building a relationship. Knowing your elevator pitch can still be useful, as it can serve as an outline of the answers to questions you may be asked during a conversation.

Steps for Crafting an Elevator Pitch

I had never actually sat down and worked on an official elevator pitch until my senior year. One of my assignments was to develop my own “mission statement” as a sustainability studies student. I struggled and spent a good thirty minutes focusing on the first sentence. After much fuss, I crafted my official elevator pitch:

“I am a political science and sustainability studies scholar at the University of Florida who is passionate about environmental justice. As an environmental communicator at the Thompson Earth Systems Institute, I harness my communication skills, scholarship, stewardship, and cultural humility to help Floridians better understand the natural world around them. With my expertise, I am dedicated to raising awareness and advocating for policies that promote resiliency for our climate, and our communities.

I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. Having all my skills and experiences articulated made my goals feel more focused. Ever since, I’ve used this for my LinkedIn, my internship bio page, a few job interviews – both of which I have l landed – and for informal conversations. Here are some ways to break down your elevator pitch.

  • Do not overthink it! Start by stating your name and role.
    “My name is Sarisha; I am a political science and sustainability studies scholar at the University of Florida…”
  • State your interests and passions. Show what motivates you!
    “…. passionate about environmental justice.”
  • List what strengths and skills you have. This shows that you immersed and applied yourself.
    “As an environmental communicator at the Thompson Earth Systems Institute, I harness effective communication skills, scholarship, stewardship and cultural humility to help Floridians understand the natural world around them.“
  • How can all your experience, skills and interest contribute to your goals, or the goals of the positions you are applying for?
    “With my expertise, I am dedicated to raising awareness and advocating for policies that promote resiliency for our climate and our communities.”

Hopefully, this guide can help you, but for more resources, check out this guide from the UF Career Connection Center. If you want any feedback on your pitch, reach out to a professor, mentor, or career advisor. UF’s Career Connections Center may also be able to assist.

And finally, when delivering your elevator pitch, remember that confidence is key. Maintain your eye contact, speak slowly, articulate your words, stand tall, and remember to smile and let your passions be known! Now that you know the basics, grab a friend and practice your pitch!

About the Author


Sarisha Boodoo pursued her B.A. in Sustainability Studies and Political Science at the University of Florida, last spring. She was a participant in TESI’s pilot Environmental Leaders Fellowship program