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What Are You Going to Do After You Graduate?

By Sydney Meyer
On November 30, 2018

The questions have begun. We hear them throughout our college careers: “Where do you go to school?” “What are you studying?” “Um … what kinds of things do you do with that degree?”

But the moment anyone hears you’re getting ready to graduate, a shift occurs. Innocent questions become threatening. Flocks of people swoop in with their talons outstretched, eyes glinting menacingly, mouths open, administering the anxiety-causing, havoc-wreaking, soul-crushingly typical question:

“What are you going to do after you graduate?”

We all have to deal with this at one time or another. Below is a list of responses that can be utilized each time this unfortunate question arises:

1. Say something like, “I’m just taking it one day at a time”

This is a good, non-committal answer. Though it may not entirely satisfy the interrogators, who can blame you? You’re an overwhelmed college student and your brain is still underdeveloped – you can only focus on so many things at once. Rub your eyes and give a big yawn to really sell this one.

2. Distort the truth

Not to be mistaken for lying, which is blatant and utterly incorrect. Lying is what you do when you say that you have a job interview next week and have basically already been hired. Misdirection is saying that there’s a chance you could get an interview within the next few weeks and that you could possibly someday work within that company. See the difference? That’s not morally unsound, is it?

3. Bore them with the details

Immediately launch into a detailed plan about your hopes and dreams, distracting and overwhelming them with a deluge of every daydream you’ve had since you were 10. Eventually, hopefully, they’ll get tired of listening about the time you ate a coconut cream pie and realized that you wanted to open a bakery, but then decided you had to get a business degree to open your own restaurant. And how, upon entering college, you became enamored with the idea of a musical education degree, regardless of the fact that you had never before picked up an instrument. By the time you get to the part about how a chance run-in with a dog-owner at the park led you to the realization that vet school was really for you, they’ll have quietly moved far, far away.

4. Cry

When they ask you the question, initiate the waterworks. That’ll teach them to bring up sore subjects to emotionally compromised young adults. It shouldn’t be too hard to burst into tears – just think of all the finals you have coming up.

5. Return the favor

Instead of getting defensive, switch to offense. Ask them what they’re having for dinner, where they see themselves in five years, what they’d name their goldfish if they had one. The whole conversation could prove to be therapeutic – helping you realize that most people don’t have a clue about what’s ahead and helping them with some introspection.

6. Answer honestly

Sometimes honesty is the best policy. If you really don’t know what you’re going to do, just say that. You don’t need to give an excuse or talk in abstracts. This is your life, not theirs – what you do or don’t do is not up to them to decide.

Transition can be scary. Sometimes questions about the future can trigger the fear response: fear of the unknown, fear of future stability, fear of failure and wasted opportunities. Just remember, life isn’t set in stone and you don’t have to have all the answers. Enjoy the obscurity of your future.

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