I had a great time last evening at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus, on a panel for Communication, Culture & Information Technology (CCIT) students. The panel was part of a networking event for mostly third- and fourth-year students.

We panelists talked about our own work experience: how we moved into our current positions, where we came from, what the work is like, and so on. In smaller groups, we answered students’ questions about résumés, interviews, work environments and much more. 

These CCIT students are bright! I especially admired the ones who had really thought about their questions in advance, and who were able to be very specific about what they were looking for in a career. (Unlike me at that age.) Some have already followed up with me by email or Twitter.

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I wish I’d had more time at the end of the night to chat with my fellow panelists, but I had to get back to my desk to finish some proposals. Here’s a shout-out to Jason Hashimoto of Sony, Darin Bristow of Nelvana, Conrad Muan of Amalgam Design, Chrissy Newton and Lauren Dodge of Vocab, and photographer Michael Willems (plus one person on whose name I’m drawing a blank). And thanks to Brendan Shaw for organizing us.

For many of the students, these might be the key take-aways:

  • Blogging is a must if you want to distinguish yourself and attract potential employers.
  • Networking is the number-one way to find a job (no surprise here).
  • Learn to use LinkedIn and Twitter, and Facebook to a lesser degree, for networking.
  • One recent grad experienced great success after creating a video résumé.
  • Your job interview starts as soon as you exit the elevator. Be kind to the receptionist!
  • Join a professional organization such as PRSA or IABC, and volunteer to get known.
  • Never be afraid of hard work.
  • Being happy at your job is more important than how much money you make.
  • It’s best to work for someone else before starting your own business. Learn on their dime.
  • If you don’t have enough samples of your work to show, volunteer to design a Web site for a church or small charity, or write articles for a community newspaper. Whatever your skill set, use it!
  • You have to hustle! No one is going to hand you anything on a platter (I think my Mom said this first).

UPDATE: Students, read this post about how one student used Twitter to build her network and find a job.

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