Interview with a Grown-Up

Due October 30

Worth 10 Homework Points

As we continue to consider what it means to find purpose and “grow up” in today’s society, I thought it would be useful for us to talk with an actual “grown-up.”

For this project, you can work alone or with a partner.

Please choose a grown-up to interview and interview them.

Then I want you to edit the interview into a short podcast that is at least 7 minutes.

You will have the option to use quotes from these interviews in your final paper, and, time willing, share your podcasts in class. If for some reason you feel like your interview is too private for this kind of sharing, please approach me and let me know.


 Steps for a successful interview:

  1. Pick a Grown-up in your life

Don’t just pick any grown-up. Choose your grown up for a reason. Perhaps the person has met all five milestones. Perhaps they’re really old and haven’t met any. For whatever reason you choose your grown-up, be aware of the reasons. I want you to tell them at some point in the interview. Be sure to record their response.

  1. Prepare a list of questions. 

Preparing ahead of time is key to a successful interview. Even if you don’t stick to your questions, it will be useful to have them on hand.

Make a list of at least 10 questions. Try to connect them with our themes: adulthood, emerging adulthood, changing technology, purpose finding, and growing up, in general.

Revisit Henig’s description of qualities that mark an emerging adult. For example, she lists:  “identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between, and a rather poetic characteristic he calls ‘a sense of possibilities’” (200).

It’s possible some adults may share qualities with emerging adults. It’s possible they do not. I’m interested to see what you find.


Here are some specific questions you could ask:

  • Do you feel like a grown-up?
  • If so, what does feeling like a grown-up feel like?
  • Does the internet affect how you experience your age?
  • How do you feel about the future?
  • In what ways does digital technology influence how you feel about the future?
  • Do you feel like you have things figured out?
  • Have you found your purpose?
  • Has digital technology changed the way you find purpose?
  • When have you felt the most grown up?
  • How has the internet changed your life?
  • Does your life look like how you imagined it would look like when you were younger?
  • In what ways has changing technology extended you?
  • How do you use the internet?

Our final paper prompt will involve themes about meaning making, pursuing purpose, and how digital technology extends us. Please keep this in mind as your conduct your interview.

(The following questions come from the StoryCorps website:

  • What do you do for a living?
  • Tell me about how you got into your line of work.
  • Do you like your job?
  • What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What lessons has your work life taught you?
  • If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?


At some point, tell this person why you picked them—why you consider them a grown up—and record it.

  1. Be sure to record the whole conversation–whether or not you edit this out.

Here is a list of helpful tips from the StoryCorps “Do-it-Yourself Instruction Guide.”

Find the list here:


How to Choose an Interview Location

Pick the quietest place possible. A carpeted room is best. Be sure to turn the volume off on any TV, radio, or stereo. Close the door and listen for anything else that’s making noise: buzzing fluorescent lights, ticking clocks, air conditioners, etc. If possible, turn them off or move them out of the room. Avoid kitchens, which have reflective surfaces and noisy appliances. Listen for noise during the interview as well. If your storyteller fiddles with a necklace, for example, feel free to tell him or her if the microphone picks up the sound. Make the space as peaceful as possible by turning the lights low.

 How to Begin the Conversation

Start the interview by stating your name, your age, the date, and the location of the interview. For example, “My name is Marissa Martinez. I’m forty years old. The date is November 28, 2008, and I’m sitting with my grandfather, Frank Jackson, in his living room in Hamilton, Missouri.” Then ask your storyteller to do the same.

Remember, the questions you prepared in advance are just suggestions. Trust your instincts and ask questions in whatever order feels right. If something interests you, ask more about it. Sometimes your storyteller may need to know that it’s okay to talk about a certain topic. Grant permission by saying, “Tell me more.” Take breaks if your storyteller needs them. Avoid saying “uh huh” or interrupting. Instead, use visual cues like nodding your head to encourage the storyteller to keep going.

How to Keep the Conversation Flowing

  • Listen closely.Look your storyteller in the eyes. Nod your head. Smile. Stay engaged.
  • Stick with the good stuff.Try to keep to the topics that move you. If the current topic isn’t what you wanted to put on tape, gently steer the conversation in another direction.
  • Ask emotional questions.Asking‚ “How does this make you feel?” often elicits interesting responses. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Respect your subject.If there is a topic that your interview partner does not want to talk about, respect his or her wishes and move on.
  • Take notes during the interview.Write down questions or stories you might want to return to later.
  • Be curious and honest, and keep an open heart.Great things will happen.

How to Wrap It Up

Before you turn off the recorder, ask the storyteller if there is anything else that he or she wants to talk about. Then make sure to thank the person; opening up can be difficult. Express your gratitude, and let him or her know that it was a privilege to listen to the story. Finally, hit STOP on your recorder.


Preparing your final product

The final step will be to prepare your final product.

Please take advantage of the English Department’s new DIGISPACE.

Digispace not only has great audio editing software (Audacity) but tech savvy literacy assistants. Please take advantage of their know-how.

Digispace is located in Marcil 217 A/B and is open nightly Monday-Thursday, 5-8 pm.