I sure do. In social situations, I dread the question “what do you do?”, because there’s no way to answer it in brief with any semblance of accuracy.
This thread is to help me, and others in my situation, come up with useful answers to this question. Explain what you do in whatever detail you feel is necessary, and hopefully we can help each other out.
I’ll start, naturally. I work at a small (<50 employee) nonprofit. It’s identified by its initials, and no one outside the industry has ever heard of it, so the tried-and-true dodge of “I work for Company” causes more problems than it solves.
My business card identifies me as a Technology Specialist. If that sounds just a smidgen vague and meaningless, that’s because it is. You can’t specialize in technology; that’s like a chef specializing in food. A more accurate title would probably be “all-purpose geek”. On any given day, I might be doing app debugging, IT and server maintenance, e-learning development, database management, SharePoint design, ASP programming, Flash animation, plain ol’ proofreading, technical writing, or whatever bizarre vaguely-tech-related thing someone decided to throw my way and let me figure it out. Loathe as I am to use tired clichés, “jack of all trades, master of none” sums it up about as well as anything.
It’s a fun job, but you can see why it’s tough to explain at parties. My most common answer to the question in question is “I’m a computer geek”, but that rarely seems to satisfy. If pressed, I’ll sometimes call myself a programmer, since about 60% of my work involves writing or editing code in some fashion. I’ve also tried saying I work in IT.
I don’t like doing either of those, though, because dedicated professionals in both of those fields have skills and credentials that I don’t (I have about three years’ worth of Comp Sci college credits and an A+ certification), as do pros in pretty much every field I dabble in. I know from secondhand experience how much RNs/LPNs hate it when the orderlies call themselves “nurses”, and I can’t imagine other professionals like it much better.
So, what’s a geek-of-all-disciplines to do? Tell me what you’d call my job, and I’ll tell you what I’d call yours. Thanks!