What are you going to do after graduation? What do you want to do with your degree?
These topics can be difficult to talk about with family members, especially during the holidays. Whether you’re certain of your future plans or still trying to figure it out, it’s a topic that is most likely unavoidable. It might be challenging, but here are some tips to make these conversations over winter break a little easier.
Bring up the topic first
You know this topic is going to be brought up at some point during winter break, so take initiative and bring it up first—even if you don’t have it all figured out yet. This way, you can guide the conversation in a way that’s most comfortable to you.
Begin by talking about your favorite class from this semester, a fun project you worked on, or an opportunity you pursued that positively impacted you. By focusing on the positive experiences you’ve had so far, you are showing your family that you’re making progress toward your future goals.
Involve your family in the discussion by asking questions about their experiences. It takes the primary focus off you and allows them to give you advice in an indirect way.
- 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?
If the conversation begins to go downhill because your family members aren’t getting the kinds of answers they expected, try to stay calm. Share your thoughts and feelings about the future, whether it be excitement or nervousness (or both).
Sometimes difficult conversations and frustrating interactions catch us off guard or escalate more than we expect. In these moments, we need to practice on-the-spot self-care to help us respond rationally and calmly:
- Remember to take long breaths while listening to stay present in the moment.
- Reiterate why this conversation is important and that you value the other person. Acknowledge you recognize they value you, as well, and refocus on what feels important for you to say.
- If need be, ask to take a break and return to the conversation after everyone has time to cool off.
Develop a plan
Ask what ideas they have based on your interests and make a list of possible options and next steps together. Write down three small goals you can accomplish during winter break, such as updating your résumé, setting up your Handshake account or researching companies that interest you.
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 over break to learn more about what they do and the steps it takes to get there. Oftentimes, referrals or chance meetings can lead to some exciting opportunities.
Career Services can help
Whether you have a plan or 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, consult with a career development advisor over break or when you return to campus. Let your family know you’re meeting with Career Services and seeking opportunities that will benefit your future.