pitch competition - hero


Selling your idea in 15 minutes or less

How a competition brings out the best in School of Community Studies learners

What does one of the jobs for disability studies graduate look like? It may involve creating programs for adults with disabilities from start to finish, including assessing the program’s need, crafting its mission, considering its hiring structure, and pitching the concept to funders. When Donna Jones — an instructor in the Disability Studies Diploma and Certificate at Bow Valley College — was working for her previous employer, she developed a concept that let learners practice this process. In her idea’s main event, learners have 15 minutes to pitch their program to a panel of high-level management professionals (the format is loosely based on the CBC series Dragons’ Den). When Donna came to Bow Valley College in 2014, she brought the competition with her. 

This year, the team Bridging Connections took the top prize for its program that helps people with disabilities build relationships. Learners from the Addiction Studies Aboriginal Focus Diploma participated as well, with Metamorphosis: Women’s Recovery Centre, winning for their project that aims to reduce addiction among mothers while maintaining familial bonds. Though the participants didn’t compete for actual funding, both winning teams scored an A+ on the assignment. 

Donna says learners refine their pitch techniques in a few ways. Every week, they watch an episode of Dragons’ Den and evaluate the competitors’ strengths. Learners have a rehearsal before the actual competition, where Leadership course instructors give them feedback. Many also connect with program alumni to get their advice on how they approached the competition.   

By the time of the competition, Donna says learner feedback on the competition is immense. “They talk about their confidence in their presentation and speaking, in being able to create ideas and speak to the justification of why or how that would be implemented,” she says. 

Alycia Koenigsberg, the team lead for Bridging Connections, says she loved the experience of working on a team. She and her team members benefited from each others’ strengths, they were challenged to work through disagreements, and in the end, they were proud to have a finished product that they came up with together.

Carlie Scuccato, contract and procurement specialist with the Government of Alberta and a competition panelist, says these learners were really able to see the gaps in the system. “Sometimes, when you're in it, you don't have an objective view of the system and the programs as a whole, and you get stuck in your ways,” she says. “It's so refreshing to see new eyes, the next generation that will be in this industry.”

The pitch competition takes place annually in the Disability Studies Diploma and Addiction Studies Aboriginal Focus Diploma. Are you interested in a career in one of those disciplines? Visit our School of Community Studies.  

Is your story waiting to be told? If you’re a learner with an interesting story, we may want to tell it on bowvalleycollege.ca. Email us at newsroom@bowvalleycollege.ca.

Posted on June 1, 2018

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