Seventeen years ago, Champlain College pioneered its prestigious elevator pitch. The brainchild of Associate Director of the Career Collaborative Pat Boera and Professor Bob Bloch, this annual event has evolved into a cornerstone of student achievement and real-world career preparation. On April 3, eighteen finalists competed for a variety of cash prizes, but more importantly, for the chance to hone their pitching skills. Participants faced the challenge of delivering a compelling pitch in just ninety seconds (the length of an elevator ride), judged on execution, content quality, and the ability to leave a lasting impression.

What Sets This Elevator Pitch Apart?

While most pitch contests focus only on entrepreneurial endeavors, Champlain’s elevator pitch has three categories: Advocates, Entrepreneurs, and Job/Internship seekers. These categories open up opportunities for all students in every division to prepare and present their elevator pitches that might help them in their future careers.

Cash prizes are certainly a draw for students, but what every participant takes home at the end of the day is a deeper understanding of how to present themselves and reach for opportunities. Regardless of who wins, everyone leave with more confidence to go out into the professional world and market themselves. This is just one way the college prepares students to be what we call Champlain Ready!

“I’ve always felt it was important for students to have the ability to succinctly share information about themselves—and a lot of schools do elevator pitches. We wanted to put a Champlain spin on the elevator pitch, which is why we added categories,” says Boera. “But, I personally believe every student should leave Champlain having an elevator pitch in their pocket.”

How It Makes A Difference

The pitch also provides students a platform to explore and express their passions in social work, sustainability, community building, and so much more. They are able to bring awareness to the issues they are passionate about, both on and off campus.

Scarlette Leonard ʼ26, first-place winner of the Advocate category, values the experience the elevator pitch gave her. “It’s such a fun opportunity to flex those writing, memorization, and public speaking skills outside of class. And, it’s a great way to connect with the community—I get to meet so many people I usually wouldn’t!” she says.

In her pitch, she shared her passion for the game studio at Champlain, and, as a Game Art major herself, she wants to improve communication and understanding between students and faculty of the Game Studio. 

Lain Valdez-Bell ʼ26, first-place winner of the Job/Internship Seeker category, likens their experience in the Elevator Pitch to their everyday work: “I mentioned it briefly in the pitch, but I am a peer coach on campus. So, I love doing stuff like this. I love public speaking, and talking about what I’ve learned in Game Production is super cool.”

There are so many avenues for students to develop their individual skills, as well as build a repertoire of information surrounding career-building and interview success. The elevator pitch is just one more way that students can build their confidence in their work.

How to Improve Your Own Pitch

Performing an elevator pitch can be a daunting task, especially one in front of a crowd of people. For those who may have nerves, worries, or may simply need some guidance, our esteemed judges passed on their best advice for anyone needing to make an elevator pitch:

“Really think about what you want to say, and then be as genuine as you can possibly be. Because, at the end of the day, it’s all about being ourselves, connecting with each other, and sharing the unique skills we all have to share.”
Sara Byers, Co-owner and President of Leonardo’s Pizza and Vice Chairperson of the Champlain College Board of Trustees.

“Be succinct, try to keep it light, and be authentic.”
—Andrew Christiansen, Co-owner of King Street Laundry.

“Practice. Practice talking to actual people. You can practice in your room and other things, but practice with actual people so you can start to gauge their response. So when you do run into people out there in the real world, you’ve just got it in your pocket. You’re ready to roll.”
Jesse Bridges, CEO of United Way of Northwest Vermont.

“Well, I could say practice. But, get a simple story and stick to it. And—number one—don’t memorize it.”
Bob Bloch, Co-founder of the Elevator Pitch at Champlain and adjunct faculty member of the Stiller School of Business.

“You got to learn to embrace failure. It’s a reality in life. Failing is a good thing. There are always opportunities for improvement, failure focuses your eyes on what those opportunities are…If you can grow, if you can better faster than your competition, you will win the game. To me [an elevator pitch] is an opportunity to fail.”
Michael Metz, Trustee of Champlain College and Generator Makerspace.

“Don’t memorize, but be so familiar with the information that it comes to you like your favorite song.”
—Pat Boera, Associate Director of the Career Collaborative

Alyssa Fabrizio '26
Professional Writing

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