How to Pitch Yourself as a Scientist: Helpful Tips

Beyond the PhD recently hosted a two-part series on elevator pitches. The event was co-sponsored by Westchester Biotech Project and Cerneos Group. The event took place over two days with a virtual first session followed by an in-person networking event held at UConn Health in Farmington, CT. Beyond the PhD co-founder Robert Pijewski put together an informational session on what makes a good elevator pitch and how to pitch yourself as a scientist. When giving a pitch, it’s important to keep them, concise, and up-beat. First impressions are made within the first seven seconds so every second counts when you meet somebody for the first time.

Some key things to keep in mind when preparing your Elevator Pitch:

  • Avoid science jargon and abbreviations
  • Make eye contact and present yourself professionally with an inviting look
  • Know your audience – not everybody you speak to will be a scientist
  • Speak concisely 
  • Answer the questions “Why you?” and “Why should they get to know you?”

The virtual event featured four pitch mentors including Judy Carmody (CEO of Carmody Quality Solutions), Victoria Donovan (CEO of Clinically Media), Aditi Vyas (Scientific and Clinical Consultant of Cerneos Group), Richard Tharin (CEO of Cerneos Group), and Joanne Gere (Co-Founder and Executive Director of Westchester Biotech Project). After presenting their pitches, students worked in groups with one of the mentors to prepare and practice their own pitch. 

Picture taken from the Elevator Pitch Event in Farmington, CT. Examples of “softball” questions attendees crafted to ask as icebreakers during the networking event.

The in-person networking event at UConn Health was hosted on October 20th. Local scientists and incubators gathered to meet each other, and students had the opportunity to practice their pitches. One of the groups present was Action Innovation Network, a group located in southeastern Massachusetts, executive director Joan Popolo represented the group and talked about the amazing projects coming out of serval incubators in and around New England. Joanne Gere pitched the idea of using softballs to “get the ball rolling”. Conversations were started by asking a question that was featured on a softball and the ball was passed on to the next person. The exercise encouraged everybody to think beyond their role as a scientist. Brittany Knight of Beyond the PhD said that “we are more than scientists, we are people too—ask if anybody is reading a good book, ask about any hobbies.” One of my favorite questions was “Tell me about your hometown”. Scientists often study far away from home. It was amazing to learn about where many of these scientists came from. This event encouraged collaboration, networking, and everyone honed their pitching skills.

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Published by Robert Pijewski

Robert is the co-founder and co-director of Beyond the PhD. Beyond the PhD (previously AIOG) was founded at UConn Health while Robert was completing his PhD in biomedical science. After graduating, Robert has taught as an adjunct at a few colleges, and is now an assistant professor at Anna Maria College teaching in both the biology and mathematics department. Outside of science, Robert likes trying new recipes, traveling, and playing piano.

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