In Perfect Pitch, Students Share Their 90-Second Stories

October 18, 2023

Each year, Dr. Monica Hodis, associate professor of marketing in the School of Business, hosts a Perfect Pitch Competition in her Personal Selling course, challenging students to create a 90-second pitch for an inside sales representative position with ADP. This fall, there were three winners, Kyle Farewell, Tyler Hopson, and Ryan Strassner, who snagged first, second, and third place respectively.

The three winners of the fall 2023 Perfect Pitch Competition.

As part of the School of Business’ vision of preparing students to be Day 1 Ready business professionals, the pitch competition provides them with an opportunity to combine in-class concepts with real-life experiences to situate themselves as ideal candidates with ADP.

Hodis was inspired to start this event on campus in 2016 after serving as a judge for the similarly named competition at the International Collegiate Conference (ICC) for the American Marketing Association (AMA).

“We have amazing students at Fisher, who oftentimes sell themselves short, and it made sense to me that a personal selling course should teach them how to effectively pitch themselves to a potential employer before it teaches them how to sell a product or service to a potential client,” Hodis said.

The Perfect Pitch Competition at Fisher follows a two-round format and is operated fully on Zoom. Hodis said the virtual format allows her to recruit judges from outside of the Rochester region and increase interaction between the judges and participating students. Not only is this an assignment, but a potential networking opportunity where students begin building connections in the business community. 

Students are judged based on eight criteria including the 90-second time limit; how they relate their pitch to ADP’s culture; their ability to catch judges’ attention and spark interest in a second interview; provide evidence to any statements; and finishing with a strong call to action to move the hiring process forward.

Overall, there was a total of 16 business professionals, including several Fisher alumni, from nine different companies who judged and mentored students across both sections of the personal selling course. Judges included Drew Fedczuk, director of personnel, CGI Digital; Patrick Jenkins, human resources manager, DSS, Inc.; Liam Wicks ’20, ’21 (MBA), compensation analyst, ACM Global Laboratories; Laura Benotti, talent acquisition lead, Emerge; Richard Jenks, national account manager, Spectrum Enterprise; Malcolm Kelsey ’17, account manager - digital workplace services, TEKsystems; Michael D’Archangelo, director of selection, Northwestern Mutual; Anna Cuthbert ’17, vice president, First American Equipment Finance; Emma Neatrour ’15, assistant vice president of marketing, First American Equipment Finance; Casey Cuthbert ’17, assistant vice president, First American Equipment Finance; Derek Schmidt, senior district manager, ADP; Brianna Galanti, inside sales representative, ADP; Nicholas Cacciola ’21, district sales manager, ADP; Nicholas Humphreys, sales executive, ADP; Reina Martinez, elite district manager, ADP; and Camryn Holtz, recruiting associate, Northwestern Mutual.

Hodis said that Fisher students have elevated themselves at the American Marketing Association’s International Collegiate Conference. In the past two years, Fisher has had three students qualify for the finalist round of the national Perfect Pitch Competition. 

At the 2022 conference in Chicago, Jonathan Aiello ’25 represented Fisher as a finalist in the competition. He traveled along with a group of 12 Fisher undergraduate students and Hodis as chapter advisor. 

“Participating in the Perfect Pitch Competition was a scary jump as a first-year student, but it opened up so many possibilities for the future of my college career. I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to take that leap out of my comfort zone. Participating in the Perfect Pitch Competition in personal selling prepared me in many ways for my success at the ICC,” said Aiello. 

This past spring at the conference in New Orleans, Sabrina George ’24 and Olivia McGee-Smith ’24 were finalists from Fisher. They traveled with Hodis and a group of more than 20 Fisher undergraduates. 

“Before doing the pitch at ICC, I was also a finalist in the Perfect Pitch Competition in personal selling and this helped me a lot. I had already gone through the process of pitching with judges and accepting their feedback—which was extremely helpful,” said McGee-Smith. “Having this background, I was able to apply my previous knowledge to the new prompt and do very well in the competition.” 

In spring 2024, Fisher’s chapter of the AMA will be attending the International Collegiate Conference to participate in marketing competitions and simulations. The club’s Marketing Week is slated for later this month and if interested, join SJFAMA on Cardinal Hub.