10 Annoying Questions Every Recent Graduate Encounters (And how to answer them)

While congratulations are in order and celebrations are in full swing, there is a downside to graduating. Who would have known?

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All the hard work you’ve put into studying at University has resulted in a million questions you don’t know how to answer or purely don’t want to. While you can palm them off with a generic answer, you can also choose to refuse. You’re an adult, and this information is personal. You don’t have to go into detail if you don’t want to. 

1. What do you want to do with your life?

You’re a graduate student now, and you’ve only had time to think about exams, grades, and meltdowns. But here you are being approached with questions about your future. This is one of the most weighted questions you’ll ever be asked, at any age. Most people can’t answer this question because it’s impossible to know what life has to offer. Some people have to try multiple jobs and careers – get life experience - before they can answer that question.

Answer: Currently, I am looking for the right job in my area, but I’d like to head down *career* avenue. 

2. Have you found a job yet?

This will be a top contender in the most annoying questions you will be asked. If you weren’t already feeling the pressure, you sure are now. There will be some jobs that don’t fit you, or you don’t suit the role within the company. This isn’t the end of the world, there is no rush in finding the right job for yourself. There are other options to consider, like graduate programmes to make the transition from University to the workforce easier.

Answer: I am in communication with a career counsellor, and we’re researching for a suitable employer on NxtStep to make sure we find the right fit for me.

3. What are your friends doing?

This question has the potential to create rifts between friendships, if you are regularly being asked what your friends are doing, then you may begin to compare your accomplishments to theirs. But remember, they are facing this question too. What they have achieved is not a measure you have to reach immediately. Support your friends for their achievements but do not lose focus on what you have already done.

Answer: Some of my friends have already found incredible jobs. But some are still in the process of transitioning.

4. What jobs can you get with your degree?

This question you will face throughout your time at University. What are you studying? What jobs can you do with this? While some degrees are pretty standard; lawyer, medicine, accounting. Some degrees are not as straightforward; art degrees, communication, and many more. You have already prepared for this question!

Answer: That is the best part of my degree, I can utilise the skills I've learned in many different careers, but I am currently looking into *job*. 

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

You might have a general idea of the career you think will suit you best, but sometimes it isn’t that clear-cut. It might take time before you get that job. You might need to acquire more experience or specialise in a specific area to reach that goal. Or you might not know at all.

Answer: Ideally, I will be making strides within my career, but I’m ready to do the work and put the time and effort in however long it may take.

6. What grades did you get?

Grades don’t always reflect how well you know a subject. Some people don’t thrive in exam settings, and this can affect their overall mark for the year. If you are asked this question in an interview for a job, focus on the areas you did well in. In a few years, this question won’t matter anymore, you will replace grades with experience, and no one will care if you passed with honours or not.

Answer: I was happy with my grades, although I felt like the experience and knowledge gained were more beneficial than the overall grades. I learned a lot about what I am interested in and what I am good at, and for me, this was rewarding.

7. Are you ready for the real world?

I know. You thought you were already living in the real world, but not. The real world means working, earning a living, and making a career for yourself. After many years of studying, cramming, and juggling uni with a social life, I am sure you will survive just fine in the real world.

Answer: Yes, University prepared me for the real world, and I am excited to get out there.

8. How much does *job* pay?

This question is inappropriate, and you should not feel pressured into answering this question. It is personal, irrelevant to whoever is asking it, and a lot of the time it is written into contracts that you can not discuss your pay.

Answer: Unfortunately, I am unable to answer that question, but it is a great starting rate.

9. Do you still live at home?

You are a fresh graduate, everything seems up in the air, and you are still trying to find your feet. It seems like everything needs to be achieved the minute you finish university. A job lined up, future planned out, and a housing situation that is not university accommodation or a family home. There is no need to rush the process, sometimes financial situations impact your housing options, or you need one thing in your life to stay the same.

Answer: I’m putting my focus into finding a job in my field. I’ll get to the housing situation when I have achieved that.

10. Did you get work experience while at University?

New Zealand has placement jobs for every degree in every university, you may have to go looking for them yourself or ask the right people. But landing a placement in your last year of university is a great way to get first-hand experience in the type of work you could go into after you graduate. It also opens up a line of communication with companies that might have a job opportunity available once you graduate. While it is a great option to get a placement while studying, it is also fine if you decide not to. Adding on additional stress while you’re still in university can impact your ability to study.

Answer: Yes, I worked for a semester at *company*, and I found it very beneficial.

Or - No, I decided to prioritise my studies, so that when I enter the workforce, I can do so with the knowledge I have accumulated.

There will be more questions that follow but only answer them if you feel comfortable. Remember, you have already achieved something excellent by graduating. The hard work you put in, the stress and pressure you faced were not all for these questions. You have goals. You have dreams. And you will get where you want to be in your own time. 

- Shannel Milne, Nxtstep Content Writer

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