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If I want to know what career/occupation/job a student intends to have, how should I phrase the question idiomatically? Do native speakers say these?

  1. What do you intend to do after graduation?

  2. What job do you want to take after graduation?

  3. What occupation do you want to have after graduation?

Are there other ways to express the same meaning?

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    I would probably let "job" or "occupation" be inferred, and ask, "What do you plan to do after you graduate?" – J.R. Sep 2 '13 at 22:00
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Could be

  • "What do you want to do after you graduate?", or
  • "Where do you want to work after you graduate?"

You could replace 'you graduate' with 'university' or 'college' too. For example:

  • "What do you want to do after university?"

Hope that answers your question.

  • I believe your last option works fine in BrE, but it sounds a bit odd in AmE. – J.R. Sep 2 '13 at 22:00
3

Your number one is the best of the three.

Numbers two and three are not, I suggest, common idioms. Number three is close, but it would sound better to my ear if it were

"What job do you intend to have after graduation?"

An occupation is not usually thought of as something you have, but something you are or were or hope to be.

  • "My occupation is dentist."

  • "Her occupation at the time was administrative assistant."

  • "What do you hope your occupation will be after graduating?"

As for your number two, I suggest you re-word it as follows:

"What job will you look for after graduation?"

While it is OK to say "I took the job," or "I will take the job if they offer it to me," it's not common to say "What job will you take?" Better is "What job will you look for?" or "What job did they offer you?" or "If you take the job, what salary will you ask for?"

0

Try one of these:

What’s the game plan?

What’s the grand design?

  • There is nothing wrong with these suggestions – they are actually rather clever – but one would risk being looked at with a blank stare, needing to clarify with a follow-on: "What are you going to do now that you've graduated? What's next?" – J.R. Sep 2 '13 at 22:02
  • I understood that the OP was looking for alternative expressions in addition to improvements on his own suggestions – user49727 Sep 2 '13 at 23:07
  • True, but these could be very vague. "What's the game plan?" could mean anything from "What do you plan to do with the rest of your life?" to "Where are we going out for dinner after the graduation ceremony?" – J.R. Sep 3 '13 at 1:35
  • sorry - maybe I should have added 'congratulations - now ....' – user49727 Sep 3 '13 at 9:28
  • I don't think they are wrong per se – as I said in my original comment, they are a clever way to ask an otherwise common question. But I left my comment because I wanted to emphasize that, while these questions could indeed be used to ask, "What are you plans for after graduation?" they could also be used to ask a host of other questions, like, "Now that we've had the baby, when do we start saving up for college?" They need context to be fully interpretable, but I do agree with you: a cap and gown, a tassel, and a freshly-printed diploma in-hand can provide that context. – J.R. Sep 3 '13 at 9:42

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