When family and friends check in to see how you’re doing, they usually ask questions about college and work. Unfortunately, their genuine curiosity can seem more like nagging and unnecessary concern. It’s hard to remember that they’re just checking in because they care—but HC is here to help! Here, we break down some common annoying questions and give you the best ways to respond. Next time you find yourself drowning in a sea of tough questions, consider this your lifesaver!
“You still don’t have a job?”
This question poses a threat to those who are struggling in the ever-competitive job search. As if you aren’t stressed enough! The lastthing you need is someone making it worse. As a recent grad from the University of Michigan, Marissa Smith says she gets asked this question all the time. “I am constantly going to job interviews, but so is everyone else. As young candidates, we are all faced with the same challenge. But it’s important to remember that the right position will eventually come along.”
The best strategy is to be open about your struggle. Many people make the mistake of coming across as defensive. So tell whoever’s asking that it’s been hard for you to get interviews, but you’re systematically contacting companies about available positions and staking out various opportunities. If they try to give you advice, don’t be so quick to dismiss their comments. Your relative or friend might be able to provide you with fresh, new ideas about a strategy. If you want their help, try being proactive and asking if they have any contacts relevant to your career field. For example, respond with: “I’m glad you brought that up. I’ve been actively looking for and applying to jobs, but I haven’t had much luck. Do you know anyone who might be able to help?” As an assistant director for social media and innovation at the UNC Chapel Hill career center, Gary Miller frequently encourages students to utilize their resources. “Sometimes family members make great networking connections!”
“Why don’t you get an internship this semester?”
We understand that landing an internship is no easy task, but a lot of older relatives seem to forget that simple fact. Even our parents are guilty of this. When you’re pressured to snag a coveted internship, remain calm and don’t get offended. Tell people that you are applying to internships that relate to your career interests. You are actively sending out your resume and following up with potential employers. If you clearly explain your plan, your family will stop bugging you about something you already have under control.
According to career expert Heather Huhman, a generation gap can often spark this question. “You probably need to remember that things were different when your family members were looking for an internship. Although they may think it's a simple task, you might need to gently remind them that in a tough job market these opportunities are competitive and, for some fields, difficult to land.”
If you’re not interested in pursuing an internship, respond by saying that you’re focusing on your classes this semester. Say that you want to work hard academically so that you’ll have an impressive GPA to put on your resume. Your family members can’t argue with that!
“What job can you get with that major?”
This one is all too commonly heard by collegiettes. It’s easy to get caught up in the challenge of finding the right major. After all, you want to strike a balance between something you enjoy and something you can succeed in post-grad. So although considering others’ advice is important, don’t let someone else dictate what you do.
As an English communications major, Salve Regina student Emma St. Laurent experiences this a lot. Thankfully, she’s found an effective and efficient way to respond. “Normally, I just say I want to do editorial work. It is easier to say something broad, because then it will open up room for more questions, such as ‘What are you interested in?’" To steal Emma’s strategy, avoid being too specific about your intended career path. Instead, shift the focus of the conversation to some of your passions and interests. “It’s hard to know exactly what you'll be doing after college, especially when you are studying a very broad, liberal arts major. Talking about what you’re interested in, rather than exactly what you’re going to be doing, is often easier,” says Huhman.
“You might also want to tell family members that your degree won't completely dictate your future career,” Huhman explains. “Many folks who have degrees in fields that work with one another—such as journalists and public relations professionals—sometimes find themselves working in the opposite field once they've gained some experience and learned about their preferences.” Respond with: “My major actually has a lot of potential career paths. (Name some of them.) I’m also planning on meeting with a career counselor to discuss all of my options.”