When someone asks you what you do for work, how do you answer?

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item When someone asks you what you do for work, how do you answer?

  • I just say I program computers for 'x' and turn the conversation back to their interests.

  • It depends on who asks the question.
    If a primary school child asks me, I tell them that I manage all of the x data. People put it in on their computers or smartphones and I turn it into information. So, when somebody wants to know how many y happened per month last year, I can tell them.
    If an adult asks me, I normally just tell them that I'm a DBA for company z and we are in charge of x data. If they express an interest, I go into more detail.

  • I tend to say I'm a database developer with a bit of data management, analysis and reporting thrown in for good measure.
    Simplifying it for the non IT person I would say I....
    Get data.
    Validate data.
    Store data.
    Analyse data
    Present data
    Provide overview, insight and added value as much as possible via web sites and office apps.

  • I am in the UK where the title 'Administrator' means clerk or generally a low level job, so I never say I'm a database administrator unless I'm talking to someone who works in IT. I always say I work with databases or that I manage the databases for a multi-million pound business.

  • "I'm a programmer" *mimics typing in air*

    That's usually enough to put people off but otherwise they want to know what my company does, rather than what I do.

  • I ask what their favorite web site is, and then I give a 1-2 sentence explanation of how it uses a database.

    For example, if they say Amazon, I say, "You know how you add something to your cart, and then you check out, and you pay for it, and then you can see the tracking info? You can come back days or weeks or months later and it's all still there? All that data lives in a database. I make that part fast and reliable."

    Or if I already know what they do, like if they're a doctor, I give a 1-2 sentence explanation of how they use a database. "You know how you put in patient data, and when the patient comes back, you can pull up their electronic health record and see their past visits? That stuff is stored in a database. Now, you don't need me because your database isn't that big, but take, say, Harvard's hospital system - they have more doctors, and more patients, so they have a bigger database, and they hire people like me to make it faster and more reliable."

    I used to cringe when people would say, "Oh man, that part of our system is terrible, it's so slow," and then I realized it was a sales opportunity. So that kinda works out.

  • For most of the people I talk to "computers" is enough and probably puts them off. After that I try and concentrate on what they do.
    I like Brent Ozar's approach. I think I may try and use that more often. It relates the database bit to them. If they are sufficiently interested then we can dig deeper. 
    On the humorous side I have a friend who spends most of his life working with robotics and writing Python. When asked his job title he usually says "Gardener" (!) because that is what he does for a hobby. He regards almost everything he does as a kind of game - lucky man!

    Tom Gillies LinkedIn Profilewww.DuhallowGreyGeek.com[/url]

  • I've been working for a number of years as a DBA for a regional bank.
    A new developer in my IT department was surprised when browsing through our customers to discover how many of our business customers were also "DBAs".
    I got to explain that it meant "Doing Business As".  😉

    Mike Hinds Lead Database Administrator1st Source BankMCP, MCTS

  • I usually just tell them I am responsible for moving data around between files, databases, and devices. If they ask what my company does, I ask them when was the last time they had a pre-employment or random drug test. They generally go away at that point, or shift the conversation to find something less technical to talk about. Go figure. My official corporate title is Business Intelligence Developer, which I, being a fan of Louis La'mour westerns, like to think of as being a Data Cowboy.

  • Sometimes saying 'I work with computers' is like admitting 'I'm a doctor'. You immediately start hearing their problems and their expectations for free advice.

    But true, the detail depends on what the user is interested in. "manage computer data" is often enough, unless they are really interested. (and probably the most technologically noteworthy thing I've accomplished on the job was not computer related at all)

    Humorous side incident: At a Microsoft mall store, a young nerdy guy was showing the Surface (with a lot of spiel) to my wife and myself and a little patronizing (my wife is certified in maintaining website ADA compliance for a major university) until I had mentioned that I was an SQL server DBA.  I don't think he even really understood what SQL server did... but it was big and important. Attitude flipped completely, and he settled into just answering the questions we asked.


    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • I usually say, "I work for X company; this is what they do, and this is all the data that they gather, and what I do is work with that data."  If they're interested, I start to explain what a database actually is, and how I write programs to move data around and make it easier for corporate people to understand what data we're collecting and what it means.  "I write programs" usually shuts them down though...

  • I just say I'm a DBA in particular RDBMS like MSSQL DBA then if they explore interests then i explain about managing servers having databases,reports,query blub blub etc.
    For non technical folks If we say Database Administrator then they capture the word Administrator as ADMIN who is something into manging office operations etc. then we've to explain them clearly with examples !!!

  • I tell people I'm a professional fisherman who works on computers while I'm waiting for my first big catch.
    It seems that most people know or care little the different jobs that us IT folks do.

    [font="Tahoma"]Personal blog relating fishing to database administration:[/font]

    [font="Comic Sans MS"]https://davegugg.wordpress.com[/url]/[/font]

  • I usually give my title, but I almost always end up saying I work on computers. Outside of work, I have met very few people who really know what a database is.

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