How to get people to stop asking “What are you going to do next?”

February 11, 2019 | Campus Life
Unless you’ve been going to school under a rock, you’ve probably been asked the question, “What are you going to do next?” more than once. 

Wanting to know what you’re going to do after your high school graduation, post-secondary diploma or university degree is a common question that parents, friends and even career advisors often have. But is it a fair one?

Dorothy Ritz, manager of Career Development and Experiential Learning (CDEL), doesn’t think so.

“Many students don’t have a clear answer, but I don’t think many of us who are well into our careers could have answered the same question when we were in the same position either.”

One of many reasons that planning a career isn’t straightforward or simple comes down to the fact that your post-secondary career is preparing yourself for jobs that may not even exist yet.

With technology advancing and our society changing at what can feel like breakneck speed, Dorothy says that we can’t be sure which jobs might be out there in years to come. After all, 20 years ago there were no social media coordinators, IT security specialists, or building science and restoration technologists.

So instead of “What are you going to do next?” Dorothy says the questions people should be asking you (and ones you should ask yourself) should focus on:

What you care about, value and believe

"To successfully manage the career planning process, students need to know something about themselves,” says Dorothy. Until you do, she adds, it’s difficult to even start exploring careers and educational programs.

The big picture

Asking questions, including; “What do you want to do with your life?” “What are you interested in?” or “What is important to you when you think about your career?” lead to more questions. That’s a good thing, says Dorothy.

“If you want to help people, the next logical questions are, ‘How do you want to help people?’ or ‘Which skills would you like to use to help people?’ and those questions can get you thinking in ways that the very specific question about what you plan to do when you’re finished your education can’t.”

Navigating your career journey

Even though you may not have chosen your future career (that may or may not even exist yet), you are already on your career journey.

Navigating My Career Journey is a free program for all MacEwan students that can help you wind your way toward your future. The program isn’t as much about tips for resume writing (if that’s what you’re looking for, stop by CDEL for some help), as it is about the process of figuring out the path that might lead you toward your future career – big-picture things like thinking about your ideal life, being self aware, having a positive mindset and taking the opportunities that present themselves to you.

You can take the program in your own time and in your own way – there’s no pressure or deadline. Self-enrol in Navigating My Career Journey through the course catalogue in Blackboard via MyPortal.

If you’re feeling confused and overwhelmed about what to do with your life, CDEL can help you map out the next leg of your journey. Visit them on the main floor of Building 7.



Investigating your career options

Curious about what's out there? Employers make regular visits to campus, including during Get to Work Fair. 

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