Awkward family dinner conversations and how to avoid them

Media Credit: Sophie McTear | Design Editor

Media Credit: Sophie McTear | Design Editor

Emily Holland | Culture Editor

Maybe you’re planning a year to travel. Maybe you’re moving back in with your parents as you tackle student loan debt. Maybe you have no idea what you’re going to do.

Though you may be comfortable with the unknown, your family may not be. Your future plans are bound to be a topic of discussion at dinner, so be prepared to handle all the critics around the table.

We’ve compiled awkward scenarios you could encounter – and how you can talk your way out of them.

The conversation (for humanities majors)
“You know, it really wasn’t smart of you to study something that’s not going to get you a job. The humanities are dying fields. No one hires English, history or philosophy majors. What are you going to do with your degree? Do you want to be a teacher?”

How you can respond:
“Actually, the unemployment rate for people who studied the humanities is comparable to those in other fields, so I’m not really at a loss. And not everyone studying a ‘dying field’ wants to be a teacher. I can basically do any job I want. Plus, studies show that employers like to hire students with a foundation in interdisciplinary work. Do you use your major in your job? No? OK. Can you pass the bread basket, please?”

The conversation (for engineering majors)
“The job market is teeming with opportunities for engineers. I read that engineering majors were most likely to get high-paying jobs after graduation. Why don’t you have a job at a big company already?”

How you can respond:
“I just spent four years taking upwards of 18 credits a semester, and maybe I don’t want to be forced into a demanding job right off the bat. And it’s not as easy as people make it seem to get a job in electrical engineering: The unemployment rate for engineers rose to 6.5 percent last year.”

The conversation (for political science and international affairs majors)
“Life in the District must have helped you land a pretty solid job in politics. Didn’t you intern on the Hill? What are you going to do now?”

How you can respond:
“Almost 10,000 college students intern on Capitol Hill during the summer, so that isn’t the best predictor for my future success. Also, I could go to law school, join a nonprofit or take a year off and give myself a little bit of a break. The possibilities are endless. Just because I majored in political science doesn’t mean I’m pegged to be president.”

(And if none of this works, you can always drop the names of successful entrepreneurs who didn’t even graduate from college, like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Whole Foods founder John Mackey).

The conversation (for those with temporary plans)
“That internship is just for the summer? Then what are you going to do?”

How you can respond:
“That summer internship might turn into a job at the end of the summer. Recent graduates with paid internships get job offers almost six out of 10 times. I’m also going to look for a job while gaining experience through the internship, which will, by the way, also beef up my resumé.”

When the conversation turns personal (as it inevitably will)
“So, are you dating anyone?”

How you can respond:
“Believe it or not, I was a little too busy finishing my credits, thesis and finals to focus on finding a significant other.”

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