Navigating the Graduation Labyrinth

“What are you going to do after graduation?”

“Where are you going to college?”

“Have you made up your mind with what you are going to do with your life?”

“What do you want to be?”

As you approach graduation, how should you respond to these panic-inducing questions from well-intentioned family members, acquaintances and complete strangers? The best strategy is to turn the question around and use it as an opportunity for a mini-informational interview. Possible responses:

“Thank you for asking.  There are certainly a lot of options for someone my age. How did you go about deciding what to do after graduation?”

“I appreciate you asking. There are a  number of options I am exploring. Do you mind if I ask you a question? How did you choose which school and career to pursue?”

A good follow-up question would be, “If you had it to do over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?”  And, “What was the most important aspect of your education that prepared you for what you are doing now (or for your career)?”

There are at least four benefits to this strategy:

1. You are no longer on the defensive, feeling compelled to justify decisions (or indecision) with an imprompt response.

2. The individual making the inquiry might actually have some truly valuable insights.

3. Asking questions shows your maturity, affirms the value of the inquirer, and elevates the quality of your interaction with the person making the inquiry.

4. It may open a door for a more extended informational interview and an opportunity to use your Interview ID Card.

Applying this strategy, you no longer need to dread the labyrinth of upcoming graduation questions.