How to deal with The Question of the future

“So what are you going to do when you’re done your Masters?”

You’ve been there before, most likely.  You’ve just finished being introduced to some acquaintance of a friend or family member at some sort of (possibly) holiday related function.  It is more likely than not being asked by a person your senior.  The dreaded “what’s next” question.  It’s likely you’ve been fending off variations of this question for years now, ever since you’ve been old enough to understand the concept of The Future.  Or the fact that in order to sustain yourself, you need to do something that other people place value in.  Enough value to be able to keep yourself properly housed, dressed, and caffeinated.

If you went into grad school straight out of undergrad, you’ve managed to delay it for a while.  But now it’s back again, lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce.

For the last few years, I’ve adopted an “honesty is the best policy” approach to this situation.

In which case the conservation went along the lines of the following: newly met person says, “So what are you planning to do afterwards?”

My response, “I don’t know.”  There is an awkward silence for a bit.  Maybe a bit of forced laughter.  I suppose that most younger people are supposed to be more secure in their future endeavours.  Or at least all of the people that this person has met up to this date.  Certainly this person has always known since birth that they wanted to be a doctor/lawyer/professional pet detective.  I unsuccessfully try to fill it with a response that is socially correct: “Try to get a job?”  And then change the conversation to something a bit safer such as, “Do you like cheese?”

However, recently I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not the best way to deal with this situation, and there is, in fact, a much better (and fun) alternative.


I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier!  It’s the best idea I’ve had in a while (and this problem has been plaguing me for years).

You get “the question”.  Lie!  “I’m moving to Somalia to work with Doctors Without Borders.  Yes, I don’t need a PhD to work for them.  But actually they do need PhD’s more than they need medical doctors so maybe I’ll get that first.  Did you know that most kids in Somalia don’t even have a PS3?”

The best lies are creative and as outrageous as possible.

“I’m planning to move to Spain and adopt a pig so I can take up truffle hunting.  I’ve heard there’s a lot of money in truffles… what do you mean they’re a type of fungi?  I thought they were some sort of bird…”

They will either think you’re hilarious or they’ll directly run over to your mother asking whether she supports your plans.  My mom’s awesome and will always back me up, but I suppose that some of you might not want your relatives thinking you’re opening a walk-in clinic for dinosaurs.

This entry was posted in Dealing with the fact you're in grad school, Likely only amusing to me and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How to deal with The Question of the future

  1. Pingback: How to succeed in Grant Writing without really trying | in lost lands

  2. Pingback: Many chocolate bunnies were slaughtered in the submission of this thesis. | in lost lands

  3. Pingback: Why I Love my Mother | in lost lands

  4. Pingback: What can you do with a Masters in Science? (I don’t know, and now you can too!) | in lost lands

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