Seniors and the Job Market: Focused and positive.

Jim Shoop, a former newspaper colleague and fishing buddy, and I were at breakfast the other day, sipping coffee and eating a heart-healthy bagel with low-fat cream cheese. We talked about whether our shrinking retirement annuities would last as long as we will.

The only thing scarier, we agreed, is to be a graduating college senior, with a load of debt, trying to find a job – particularly in a newsroom. That’s probably already dawned on the 1,000 St. Thomas seniors set to graduate in little more than a month.

The anecdotal evidence is that those who are about to get their degrees are doing better than those of us who worry over PSAs – more inclined to be hopeful than hopeless, active than passive.

“After we walk down the aisle at commencement, shake the Rev. Dease’s hand and flip our tassels to the left,” stated a recent Aquin editorial, “we probably will not walk into our dream job. But we’ll take what we can get…

“Rather than dragging our feet and complaining about the economy and adding to the panic, students should be taking advantage of what we have.” The editorial went on to talk about job fairs, employer workshops and the resources at the St. Thomas Career Development Center.

Diane Crist, head of the center, said the hiring of college grads across the country is down 20 percent this year. But she feels St. Thomas seniors are doing a good job of coping.

“They’re being realistic, working on their resumes and asking good questions,” Crist said. “Appointments and drop-ins (to the center) are up this year. We’re full all the time.”

Senior Allison McDonald is one of the realists.

“I visited the Minnesota Private College Job Fair to feel out the job market. What I found was a lot of companies that didn’t seem to be hiring any time soon,” she said. But the broadcast journalism major is trying to stay focused – and positive.

“It’s an exciting time with newspapers hiring broadcast journalists and the emergence of news on the web,” she said. “There are jobs out there, and I just have to be flexible and work hard. Hopefully, the question mark that the next few months holds will soon turn into an exclamation point.”

My retired friends and I should learn a little lesson from the UST seniors. If everything does go to Hades in a hand basket, we are not without options. As long as we’re flexible.

Miss, would you like paper or plastic?

Sir, can I super-size that for you?