What are you planning to do after graduation?

It’s the question that can cause one to instantly lose their appetite. It’s Thanksgiving and just as you are about to digest your first bite of turkey, someone decides it’s the perfect time to quiz you on your plans after graduation.

Here are a few ideas to manage the conversation.

If you have a job offer, focus on discussing your plans for starting your career. You may find that family and friends have contacts within the organization or career field you are entering. Ask for names and start to build your professional network.

If you have recently started your job search, share your experience to date and ask for advice. My favorite response is “I am considering a number of options, what ideas do you have for me?” This turns the question around and you may gain some new insight in the responses you receive.

Let’s say you have been focused on midterms and getting through the semester. You haven’t started to look for a job or internship. You may still be undeclared, considering a variety of concentrations. Ask for advice. Talk about the classes you enjoy the most and your activities outside the classroom. This gives people a starting point to respond and suggest possible options.

Whenever possible, give people something they can work with. The more specific you can be in talking about what career interests you have, the better the chance they will be able to help and provide a referral. Bring home a few copies of your resume. I am not suggesting you leave them on the dining room table, but it is a good idea to be prepared.