Elevator Pitch Competition finalist and Schoolcraft transfer student praises Wayne State University's hands-on approach to education

Accounting major and Schoolcraft transfer student Farouk Barakat turned his interesting life experiences and personal motivation into a 90-second story that captivated judged and nabbed second place in the Mike Ilitch School of Business Elevator Pitch Competition.

Farouk Barakat

During the competition, students pitched themselves to corporate judges from Ally, Deloitte, Enterprise, Google and the Detroit Pistons during an elevator ride to the top of the Guardian Building. After the field was winnowed down, finalists were brought before a panel of judges to make their pitch again. Barakat came in second, taking home a $500-dollar prize.

At 25, Barakat has already started two businesses, married, taught English in Spain and gone to Japan as part of an international card game tournament. With wide-ranging experiences already stacking up on his resume, what advice does he have for his fellow students?

"Even if you think you know everything, you don't," he says. "There's always something to be learned. Wayne State is big on application. They teach you the theory, but they really want you to apply it. What I like about Wayne State is that they care a lot about real experiences."

Barakat says the cash prize was a nice reward that helped with his tuition, but the real draw was the opportunity to test his networking and self-pitch skills. "It was really a reflective experience for me," he says. "Having to look at my own strengths and weaknesses. I haven't had an interview in a while, so it was a great opportunity for me to reflect on myself and the experiences I've gained."

He cites preparing for the contest as a good lesson in time management. He already split his time between school and his night shift as a factory floor operator at Atlas Copco, so adding in the rehearsal for the competition was an extra challenge.

Barakat says his strategy was to use his life experiences to pitch himself as a well-rounded and well-travelled individual eager to take on new challenges and succeed at them. "I have the eyes of an entrepreneur," says Barakat. "I have owned an English academy in Spain and I run a company that organizes trading card games. I have the adaptability of moving to a new country, the critical thinking required to be a business owner and the problem solving that comes from being an efficient floor operator at my factory job."

Barakat ended his presentation with a quote his high school wrestling coach taught him. "When does the lion hunt the best? When it's hungry." He put his own spin on the quote by adding "And I am starving for an opportunity to work with you this year."

Barakat says the ultimate draw of accounting is the adaptability and flexibility it affords him. Whether he wants to work for someone else, expand his current businesses or start something new, Barakat knows he has the skills and experience to back up his passions.

"I have a love and passion for trying out and doing new things," he says. "I love constantly learning and finding ways to educate myself. "

By Jacob Stocking, Educational Outreach communications associate

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