15 Ways to Answer the Question “What are You Doing After You Graduate?”

As the end of the semester looms near, juniors and seniors have to answer one of the most annoying questions to ever exist: “what are you doing after you graduate?” The conversation usually begins with the person asking about your major, and depending on your answer, they will ask about your future plans with curiosity or concern.

You’re going to be asked about your future by everyone. Aunts and uncles will be curious when they see you for the first time in a year. Your advisor will ask about your plans, just as anyone who learns you’re a college student will. And you can expect to dodge this question at any upcoming holiday.

They may be genuinely interested in what you plan to do with your degree; they also may be wondering what the hell you’re going to do with a degree in a field deemed hopeless by a fluff-piece aggregate. Next time someone throws this question at you, you may want to try out one of these 15 responses to avoid the awkward conversation. Even if you don’t end up using these, ahem, direct answers, you’ll probably be inspired by them.

1. “I’m taking a gap year to find myself, get something pierced, and eat through my savings on a cross-country road trip.”

Well, that’s what they’ll hear as soon as you say “gap year.” Gap years have a bit of a bad rap, especially among the older generation. Follow up with your plan for life after the gap, if you have one. If not, the person will probably be fine with this answer, as it implies you’re returning to school at some point.

2. “I’ve applied to about 40 job openings in the last month. I even sealed a few resumes in the empty wine bottles I had sitting around my apartment. I released them out to sea this morning. You never know what’s out there.”

You’ve been applying to jobs left and right, but nothing has panned out yet. But you’re trying, and that’s what counts. One of these days, your friends’ “good luck”s will pay off.

3. “Stay tuned. It’s a secret!” (Alternatively, smile and walk away.)

Sometimes, people who have no place asking about your personal plans decide to pry anyway. You don’t have to humor a stranger with the doubts, insecurities, and questions about your future. Play off the conversation by framing your future as a big secret. Or just ollie out of the conversation.

4. “I haven’t made up my mind yet. Want to decide for me?”

Okay, you’re the one who’s in charge of your life, but being open to suggestions from others with experience in your field doesn’t hurt. Did someone who doesn’t know the difference between Keats and Kerouac tell you what to do with your BA in English? Smile, nod, and take their advice with a shaker of salt.

5. “Actually, I’m still planning the next 50 years of my life. Can I get back to you in a minute?”

Isn’t it crazy how people expect you to have everything figured out when you just became old enough to rent a car? Planning your future takes longer than four years. In the meantime, you can share your rough draft in the form of vague goals you’ve considered.

6. “I’m working on my portfolio before I look for some opportunities.”

Creative graduates may take time to beef up their portfolio with new projects. A strong selection of work can make all the difference. Just be sure to omit the glamor shots you took of your cat. (Is that just me?)

7. “I’ve been toiling away at my unpaid internship for the last year. Here’s hoping they remember my speedy Starbucks runs when it’s hiring time.”

A good internship can lead to a job opportunity at best, and if you don’t receive an offer upon graduation, you’ll have a solid reference on your resume at worst. Mentioning an internship will lead to good wishes. They’ll ask question or two about your duties and the company before they move onto another conversation point, such as the new titles on Netflix this month.

8. “Taking a nap.”

Go ahead, graduate. You’ve earned it.

9. “I’m starting law school/grad school/med school/clown school in the fall!”

The go-to answer for any post-grad student. Unfortunately, you opened the door for a new world of questions. “Where are you going?” “What are you going to study?” “What will you do after that?”

10. “I’m making my YouTube debut.”

Yes, there are a few YouTube millionaires, but great aunt Linda probably hasn’t heard of them.

11. “Probably going to move back to my parents’ basement.”

If you want to be YouTube famous, it’s probably best that that you move back home. After all, you’re going to have to put a lot of time and effort into your videos.

12. “I have a job lined up.” 

This reply is vague enough to tailor to your needs. If you truly do have a job offer waiting for you after graduation, talk about it. If you’re saying this to quickly end the conversation, keep a fake prospect in your arsenal in case they press further.

13. “Swimming in student loan debt. And tears. A lot of tears.”

Starting a career can take a lot longer than six months–the duration of your federal student loans’ payment-free grace period.

14. “Packing my bags and heading to [insert romanticized big city here]!” 

If you announce your plans to move to any big city in California, New York, London, or another famous metro area, get ready for skepticism. Be sure to tell them how you’ve prepared for the big move, and post pictures on Facebook to prove them wrong.

15. “A whole lotta nothing!” 

People won’t be pleased to hear this. It’s not juicy, it’s slightly disappointing, but it’s honest. Only you can appreciate the chance to sit down and breathe after four years of exams, homework, and finals week meltdowns. Whether you’re taking a break from the job hunt, wondering if post-grad education is right for you, or stopping to smell the roses, a little bit of nothing won’t hurt.

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