Navigating the Question: “What Are You Going to Do with That Major?”

The holiday season is a time for joy, gratitude, and of course, a series of questions from relatives around the dinner table. For many college students or recent graduates, one common question takes center stage: “What are you going to do with that major?” It’s a question that can trigger a mix of emotions, from uncertainty to frustration. Let’s explore ways to navigate and respond to this often-loaded question during holiday gatherings.

Embrace the Opportunity to Share Your Passion:

Instead of feeling defensive, use this question as an opportunity to share your passion for your chosen major. Explain why you find it fascinating and how it aligns with your interests and goals. This not only helps others understand your perspective but also showcases your enthusiasm for the subject.


Aunt Carol: “I hear you’re majoring in philosophy. What are you going to do with that?”

You: “Yes, Aunt Carol! I’m really passionate about exploring the fundamental questions of existence and ethics. I believe that studying philosophy gives me a unique perspective that can be applied to various fields, like ethics in technology or even policy development.”

Highlight Transferable Skills You’ve Learned from Your Major:

Many majors equip students with a set of valuable skills that are applicable across various fields. Take a moment to identify and emphasize the transferable skills you’ve gained through your studies. Think about lasses you took, or projects you had a part in that really interested you. Whether it’s critical thinking, research abilities, or effective communication, these skills are often sought after by employers in all industries.


Uncle Bob: “Engineering, huh? What’s the plan with that?”

You: “Absolutely, Uncle Bob! Engineering has honed my problem-solving abilities and attention to detail. I’m planning to apply these skills to a career in sustainable design, working on projects that address environmental challenges.”

Connect Your Major to Real-World Applications:

Help your relatives see the real-world applications of your major. Share stories or examples of individuals who have successfully translated your field of study into meaningful careers. This can provide examples of the possibilities that exist beyond the classroom.


Grandma Betty: “Art history? How will that help you in the ‘real world’?”

You: “Grandma, studying art history has given me a deep appreciation for cultural diversity and visual communication. I think these insights could be valuable in marketing or even museum curation – areas where understanding different perspectives is crucial.”

Discuss Your Future Plans:

Even if you don’t have a detailed career plan mapped out, share your thoughts on potential paths and areas of interest. Discussing your aspirations can demonstrate that you are actively thinking about your future and are open to exploring different opportunities related to your major.


Cousin Sarah: “Psychology, interesting! What’s next for you?”

You: “Well, Sarah, I’m looking into pursuing a master’s in clinical psychology to become a licensed therapist. I want to contribute to mental health awareness and help people navigate life’s challenges.”

Acknowledge the Evolving Job Market:

Explain that the job market is dynamic and always changing. Many careers today didn’t exist a decade ago, and the skills you’re acquiring are likely to be valuable in emerging fields. Emphasize your adaptability and willingness to learn, showcasing that you are prepared for the uncertainties of the future.


Grandpa: Marketing sounds interesting., but is the job market competitive for marketing majors?”

You: “Yes, it can be competitive Grandpa, but there’s a growing demand for skilled marketers. With the increasing emphasis on digital marketing, social media, and data analysis, companies are actively seeking professionals who can navigate these areas effectively.”

Navigating questions about your major during holiday gatherings can be an opportunity to showcase your passion, share your accomplishments, and express your aspirations. Remember, it’s okay not to have all the answers, but by approaching the question with confidence and a positive attitude, you can help others understand the value and potential of your chosen field of study. This holiday season enjoy the opportunity to share your educational journey with loved ones.

By Christina Moreschi
Christina Moreschi Director of Career Events and Outreach