Published: Nov. 16, 2022

family having dinner togetherThe holidays are coming, and that for many of us that means pumpkin pie, eggnog and family and friends asking how your degree or your job search is going. The break may be nice, but sometimes the questions can be stressful to answer. Here are some tips to prepare for conversations about your goals and job search.


Focus on the positive

You are doing amazing things! Think about your research, writing, teaching, service, publications, networking or job search, and brainstorm a list of cool things you’ve done lately. Pick three that you can easily talk about and practice talking about them so you’re ready with an answer when someone asks what you’ve been doing.


Frame the narrative

It’s okay to focus on your wins; you don’t need to mention your obstacles or setbacks unless you want to. If you do mention a setback, be sure to also talk about what you learned from it. This will require some practice on your part, but that’s okay—it’s also good preparation for behavioral interviews.


Ask questions

Ask a family member how they got their first job and settle in for story time. People love to talk about themselves, and you will learn a lot of interesting things along the way. This is excellent preparation for networking and informational interviewing. It also leads naturally to opportunities for you to share how the job market works in 2022 and what it’s like to search for a job, which can help family members see the differences between getting a job in 1980 and getting a job today—a rewarding exchange for both sides!


If you focus on the positive, frame the narrative and ask questions, those holiday interactions can be less stressful and even helpful, as you articulate your research for a non-academic audience or talk about historical differences in the job market and job search with family and friends. An appointment with a career advisor can help you prepare and practice for these conversations; for mid-feast assistance, check out Career Services’ on-demand career resource page.