The “dream job” revisited

I wasn’t one of those kids who from an absurdly early age knew exactly what I wanted to do. I was convinced at 10 that I wanted to be a veterinarian because I loved my cat Marmalade. Then, after performing in a dozen or so plays in middle school, I changed my mind: I wanted to be a Broadway actress. After choir took over my life in high school, I decided I’d probably become a professional choral singer.

Then, finally, college started, and after two terms I arrived at what I thought was my final career destination: newspaper journalism.

It’s a commonly held belief that college is the place where people discover their true selves and find the things they’re passionate about. I believed that to be true, and so I believed my discovery of journalism was the be-all end-all: that was it. I’d found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Now, after a month of Seattle-area job searching in the midst of an economy that’s forced millions of laid-off workers to reinvent themselves, I see clearly that my “dream job” could appear in a myriad of different forms.

There are very few reporter vacancies at Puget Sound newspapers, and among the hundreds of applications for each and every vacancy are likely a few former Post-Intelligencer reporters. That fact forced me to expand my job-searching horizons beyond JournalismJobs.com, and I’m glad it did. I found an open position for a study abroad advisor at the University of Washington, a call for marketing workers at the Seattle Art Museum and a vacant spot for a government grant writer at the Seattle Symphony. All these jobs eased the frustration I’d felt applying for job after job in the reporting field and renewed my excitement for the unknown future. They may not have been journalism jobs, but they all involved writing and incorporated other passions I have–passions for travel, art, academia and music.

The fact that there are so many potential “dream jobs” out there makes me feel better about my uncertain future in this unforgiving economy. It expands the possibilities, increasing my chances of finding a job I actually enjoy. I’ve realized that in the end, it’s not about finding a journalism job–it’s about finding a job that makes me feel inspired, content and valuable to society.

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