I am a first year student and, while looking for internships and/or placements, I came across the question "what do you want to do?", coming from companies that have multiple positions/divisions.

The thing is, I love what I am doing and I have not reached the point in my career where I have to specialize, so I still have the opportunity to experiment. This means that usually I don't complete these kinds of "generic" applications with a specific position in mind. When it comes to it, I am afraid to suggest that I am desperate for a job and I'll do whatever it takes.

How can I manage such situations?

  • 1
    What are you doing now that you love so much? – Brian May 1 '15 at 14:58
  • So you want to be a professional student? While that is an option, I'm not sure how many companies would want to support that when they probably have other tasks for you to do. – JB King May 1 '15 at 16:57

Every question an interviewer asks you can be used to improve your chances of getting the job - and this is no different. It doesn't help to be dishonest - but it can help to phrase your answer in a way that improves your chance of getting this job.

Presumably you chose to take this interview because it would lead towards a career goal or path that interests you, even if you're not sure it's the 'true' path you want to take.

Try to focus on the position you're applying for, why it appeals to you, and why it would be helpful for that specific career path, and try to cut away the unnecessary aspect of 'other' paths you might also like to take.

It's not duplicitous to tell your interviewer that a particular position is interesting to you for X reason - it's the truth, and what they're really looking for is to see if you're motivated to hold onto this position - either for the duration of your internship, or in the longer-term as you get into applying for a more permanent career-based position.


When you are asked "What do you want to do?", just be honest.

Something like "I love what I am doing and I have not reached the point in my career when I have to specialize, so I still have the opportunity to try and experiment." is a reasonable answer - as long as you are able to articulate what it is you are doing.

When looking for internships, it makes complete sense not to be too specific. You still have a lot of learning/working ahead of you. No need to specialize yet.

  • Yup. No one expects interns, especially undgrads to really know what they want out of their career. Let alone a first year student like the OP! – enderland May 1 '15 at 15:30
  • Not only does no-one expect undergrads to know what they want, but even those that do should probably try something different. It's much easier to try something for an internship and find you hate it than to sign up for a full time position and find you hate it. – DJClayworth May 1 '15 at 16:44

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