Today is day four of five of my week of informational interviews in Toronto.  I’ve met with thirteen professionals within the broad spectrum of the communications industry, turned down one job offer, got two more real job interviews set up for tomorrow, and got a call from my bank thinking my VISA had been stolen because of the hundreds spent at Town Shoes.  So things are going well.

My brain is as full as my notepad – I am learning so much.  It’s impossible not to be inspired by all these driven, successful people I’m getting the chance to have conversations with.  There’s a recurring theme to some of the advice I’m receiving and I thought I’d share the wealth and write down some of these insights. 23 to be exact:

1.  Always read the morning news the day of an interview.  If the interviewer doesn’t ask you about it (which they might) work something interesting you read into conversation.  The VP of a Public Relations firm told me she will always ask: “What is the most interesting thing you read or heard in the news today?” and is baffled by how many people are baffled by that question.

2.  Really know why you want the job before going into an interview.  Because they will ask you.  “Why communications?” “Why -insert-career-?” “Why now?”

3.  Remember that even though you just graduated, you have something to offer.  Yes it can be intimidating, but know that the table has two sides.

4.  Ask yourself what interests you? What gets you excited? What do you like to read about?

5.  If you can, angle your career around digital.  Digital is where everything is headed.

6.  Meet people in each sector / industry / group you’re interested in.  Talking to real people will help narrow it down.  It really is so much about networking.

7.  Treat getting a job as a job. Unemployed? Spend at least 24 hours a week researching and working towards getting finding employment opportunities. Employed? 6-8 hours a week.

8.  Know what you will not do.  Know your morals.

9.  You can always say no at the end (i.e. try things out).

10.  Never turn down a job interview or a date (because you just never know).

11.  Get a business card.  Make it simple – just your name and address.  No snowflakes.

12.  Start to hone in on what it is you want and apply for everything that’s even close.

13.  Your resume needs a summary at the top – one line in bold stating who you are and what you’re about.   Example given: Recent graduate with relevant practical HR experience.

14.  Look at the 100 best and 50 best employers lists. Find a great company to work for.

15.  You need to be able to say in one sentence what it is you want.

16.  Find out what you love to do and get people to pay you to do it.

17.  In Canada not all the jobs are in Toronto, but most of the best jobs are in Toronto.

18.  90% of getting a job is attitude.  Be confident. Excited. Interested. Show that you’ll work your ass off.

19.  Play up the whole small town girl coming to make it in the big city – because “people just love that shit.”  Work off of being young and motivated and wanting to learn.

20.  Stroke the egos of the people you’re dealing with – bring up a recent campaign of theirs and ask questions.  Be curious.

21.  Anyone who says they have a five year plan is looking for disaster.  Things change and mold.

22. When you’re looking for a job you’re essentially shopping for learning opportunities.  What kind of person do you want to work for and learn from?

23.  Find out what you want and leverage your network to help you get there.  If you see a job description that looks interesting ask someone you know in the field if they know of anyone related to that kind of work who you could talk to.

One thing every single person has said?  Find out what it is you are passionate about and pursue it.  Essentially point number 16: find out what you love to do and how to get someone to pay you to do it.  This is really what it’s all about.  I am so excited.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
-Howard Thurman