It’s Thanksgiving break. What does that mean? Sibling field trips to the neighborhood dive, awkward encounters with old high school friends, bad reality television, and pie. If you’re a senior in college, it also means countless questions from your parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and that one perfect cousin who already has a job lined up.
I got these questions a lot when I was a college senior. I had understandably disappointed the family by 1. attending a small liberal arts college instead of the family Alma Mater and 2. majoring in English and Theater.
When my grandfather finally cornered me during cocktail hour to ask me what the plan was, I told him I was hoping to marry for money. He seemed to think it wasn’t a bad idea.
You’re going to get asked it a lot. Prepare yourself with a sincere response that isn’t about your imminent betrothal.
Here are the three most annoying questions you will get asked over Thanksgiving Break and how to handle them with unprecedented professionalism and grace.
1. “So, what’s the plan?”
Don’t avoid this one, because it’s coming at you fast. It’s easy to roll your eyes and throw back some pinot when asked if you have a job after graduation by your friends and family, but statistically, it’s your friends and family and their networks that are going to help you most on your search for a meaningful job.
It’s all about relationships. So when you’re asked what you’re doing next year, use this as an opportunity to get the conversation going. It’s perfectly fine to not know what you’re going to be doing after graduation, but you can start building the foundation.
So, instead of getting unsolicited advice from your relatives (“You probably should have just studied engineering like your father …”), control the conversation by asking specific questions.
“I love writing, and I’m looking into ways to incorporate that into a career. Do you have any friends who work as copywriters or in other creative roles?”
2. “[Insert liberal artsy major]? What are you going to do with that?”
Another classic. I double-majored in the two things my commencement speaker used for his “You’re screwed” joke, and I’m here to tell you it’ll all be OK.
Growing companies are looking for interesting people who are strong problem solvers, creative thinkers, and fast learners. When you get asked what you’re going to do with your major, use this as an opportunity to practice marketing your major. You’re going to need to sell yourself and your major when you start interviewing for your first job after graduation. Maybe even use it as a chance to set up an informational interview with some of your relatives’ connections.
“I love what I studied. I’m graduating with a lot of well-rounded skills, and I’ve been freshening up on some more marketable skills this past year. Do you have any friends or colleagues who also disappointed the family by majoring in English? I’d love to hear about what they’re doing.”
3. “So, how’s your love life?”
Go to the kitchen and get more wine.
Don’t know where to start your job search?
Michaela Gianotti is Koru's content manager. She attended Whitman College, where she spent the better part of four years convincing her family that English majors can get jobs too. She has since found awesome work (SEE!) at 826 Seattle, msnNOW, and Koru.