In job search, I’ll take ‘Whatever I can get’

The real world is looming large, its shadow cloaking my college fun more and more with every time I hear what should be excellent news: another one of my friends has her future all figured out.

Or at least her first job lined up.

Or a big-time internship to pay her bills for three months while she finds that elusive first job.

And after nine years of knowing exactly what I want to do with my life (report for a newspaper), I still don’t know where I’ll be doing it after graduation.

And with the economy still sluggish enough for generalizations about the recession to fly in news writing, I’m guessing my current lack of a job or internship puts me in the majority— not the minority— of college seniors.

While I would love to land a dream job reporting in the Chicago-area starting in June, I’m slightly too realistic to truly expect that to happen. I’ve started to brace myself for Plan B and brainstorm backup plans all through the alphabet to Plan Z (waitressinG, writing freelance while working on a novel).

But I don’t think the letters of the alphabet offer the best analogy for the quality and desirability of my job/internship/future plans. The responses to the old-school Facebook relationship categories listed as “Looking for” are a much better fit, and the age old questions of whether it’s better to settle for “whatever I can get” or hold out for a true “relationship” applies just as well.

If I can’t land a great full-time job that I can develop a real relationship with, I’ll shoot for a great paid internship, one I can develop a figurative friendship with.

For me, this is the equivalent of working three months at a newspaper in, say, Pittsburgh, Dallas or Louisville – big markets and great papers, but without the luxury of a full staff position.

If I can’t find a paid internship worth the prestige of friend status, my next best option is to start dating.

Figurative job dating would include looking for a full-time reporting job in a place like Danville or Janesville, Wis. Fine places full of great and interesting people, I’m sure, but not Chicagoland and not where my family and friends live.

I could date one of these jobs temporarily, but I wouldn’t see it working out long-term.

I’ll probably start getting a bit desperate if job dating fails me, and I’ll begin looking for the “random play” of the working world. If I sink this low, I’ll be spending my time looking for freelance writing gigs through editors I know and reaching out to ones I don’t know.

And I’ll be waiting and watching for a higher-level job to move me up the satisfaction scale.

But the moment my random play of freelancing and keeping my eyes peeled for openings begins to take too long, it will be time to give in completely and take the feared “whatever I can get.”

In this phase of complete job search desperation, I will look for anything that involves writing or communications.

No boring proofreading or tedious editing job will be beneath me if I stoop to the “whatever I can get” phase. Neither will any job in public relations.

Yes, needing employment this badly will cause me to turn to the “dark side” of mass communication. And if necessary, I can be OK with that.

So no matter how lofty my long-term career goals are, I know what’s best to do straight out of college: disregard the stigma of the old school Facebook thinking, and take whatever job I can get.

I can always consider it a temporary job dating fix, necessary just to hold off my desperation until I can find a more desirable situation.

A steady relationship, or at least a solid friendship, with a great full-time job will come later, and in the meantime, my integrity as a journalist and my goals as an individual will keep me satisfied and confident that I will eventually land a job that is the perfect fit for me.

Marie is a senior in Media.