April 27, 2016

How to handle questions when you’re home on summer break

Kelly Woods

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Whenever you're home on break to visit with family and friends, youre likely to get lots of questions about what youve been up to — and where youre headed. The advisors at the Career Development Center have come up with some common questions and stress-free answers.

Q. What are you doing now? How do you like school?

This is a simple question that should be easy to answer. But if youre having trouble coming up with more than just Its good, here are some smart convo ideas:

  • I just finished my [first, second, etc.] year at Mount Holyoke College ...
  • This spring I took classes in X, Y and Z ...
  • Im starting to get involved with/Id like to explore opportunities in ...
  • The thing that surprised me most this past semester is ...
  • An accomplishment Im most proud of is ... 

Q. What are you thinking about next? Whats your major? What are you going to do after graduation? What on earth do you think youll do with that major?!

Adults love these questions. And everyone will have (mostly) well-meaning advice on what he or she thinks you should do. No need to fear! Start with these:

  • Ultimately I think I want to study X with the goal of being/doing Y ...
  • I am hoping to [insert research or internship goal here].
  • Im not sure exactly what my long-term goals are yet, but I am hoping they’ll include X, Y and Z ...
  • Did you know that [insert the name of an impressive person here] also majored in [insert your major here]?
  • My mentors career path is so interesting. It involved ...  

Now its your turn to ask the questions!

After giving a polite update response and practicing your elevator pitch, it is totally appropriate to deflect and probe — especially if you do so with a smile.

  • What about you? I understand that you are involved with X? What is that like?
  • Did I hear that [insert the name of a mutual acquaintance] got a new job with X/had an internship doing Y/traveled to Z? How did he or she first get interested in that? Do you think he or she would be willing to speak with me about this experience?
  • Are you doing what you thought you would be doing when you were my age? Tell me about your path. Is there anything you wish you had done differently? What advice would you give your younger self?

Most important of all? Be confident.

You are smart, talented and definitely going places. Its your path. Own it!

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Kelly Woods brings over 15 years of experience in student development and advising to her current role as the associate director, career advising, in the Career Development Center. As a certified global career development facilitator and a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)–certified practitioner, Woods is adept at working with diverse learners and a variety of industries. When Woods isn’t helping Mount Holyoke students make their dream careers a reality, she can be found inspiring the next generation of girls through her involvement with Girl Scouts.
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