Student showing family something on her computer while sitting at a kitchen table

“What are you going to do after graduation?”

“What do you want to do with your degree?”

Sometimes it can feel like these types of questions come up a lot, especially with family. Whether you’re certain of your future plans or still figuring it out, there are ways to make the conversation easier. Here are some tips for talking with your family about your future.

Start the conversation

This topic will most likely be brought up at some point over break – so why not bring it up first? Take control of the conversation, even if you don’t have everything figured out yet. This way, you can guide the conversation in a way that’s most comfortable for you.

Be ready to talk about things like your favorite class this semester, a fun project you worked on or an opportunity you pursued. By focusing on the positive experiences you’ve had so far, you can highlight the progress you’re making toward your future goals and things you’ve learned along the way.

Ask questions

Involve your family in the discussion by asking questions about their experiences. This can temporarily take the focus off you, and allows them to give you advice in an indirect way. Here are some examples of questions to ask:

  • What was your first job after college?
  • How did you decide what you wanted to do?
  • What advice do you have about choosing a career?
  • Do you know anyone I can talk to in my field of interest?
  • Do you have ideas for what I can do next in order to accomplish my goals?

Take a break

Sometimes conversations can catch us off-guard or escalate more than we expect. If the conversation begins to go downhill, try to stay calm. Share your thoughts and feelings about the future, whether it be excitement or nervousness (or both!).

In these situations, de-escalating is an important tool to bring everyone back to the goal of the conversation. Reiterate why this conversation is important and that you value the other person. If the volume ticks up, use your own voice to bring it back down. If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a moment and breathe before speaking again. If need be, ask to take a break and return to the conversation after everyone has time to cool off.

Develop a plan

Often with these conversations, family members are trying to be helpful and want to see you succeed.  Ask what ideas they have based on your interests and experiences at CU, and make a list of possible options and next steps together. Write down three small goals you can accomplish during break. These could include:

  • Updating your résumé.
  • Setting up an account in Handshake, CU’s online resource for jobs, internships and career development appointments.
  • Making an appointment with a career development advisor.
  • Researching companies that interest you.
  • Connecting with a family friend for an informational interview about their career.

Talk to relatives and family friends to see if they have any connections in industries or positions that interest you. Make time to connect with them to learn more about what they do and how they got into their career. Referrals or chance meetings can lead to some exciting opportunities.

Career Services can help

Whether you have a plan for your future or you are still figuring things out, Career Services is here to help. If you find this conversation hard to navigate or if it didn’t go as planned, meet with a career development advisor. Stop by our drop-in hours Monday-Thursday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.