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

  • Keep in mind that 95% of the time, people are not looking for a detailed answer. They're not really interested in whether you're a DB administrator, developer, website creator or hardware person. If for some reason they are interested, they'll ask.

    If I ask someone about their job, and they say 'lawyer', but then go into a 5+ minute description of esoteric tax law that they practice, my eyes will probably glaze over too.

    ...

    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • I typically say I am a database specialist. If they express any interest in knowing more but are not technical themselves, I use the analogy of an Excel spreadsheet which most people are familiar with. I say I organize spreadhseets on a massive scale, and tie it in to a common website that uses all those spreadsheets behind the scenes.

    Hakim Ali
    www.sqlzen.com

  • I normally reply that I work in IT.

  • This reminds me of a conversation in a nightclub about 20 years ago
    … a group of girls approached us and asked what we did for a living... unfortunately my brother was with me and brought some "normal" people out with us... my brothers 1st friend answered (truthfully)  i'm a fireman... his next friend is a fighter pilot, then a police officer and finally the last guy is a personal trainer... all with more "personal kudos" than a database guru.... myself and my brother just looked at each other and lied outright (he said priest, I said mechanic) … i'm not ashamed to be a DBA/developer, but it's not exactly a talking point.

    MVDBA

  • I generally tell them that "I am a database administrator; which is a spcific role in the IT industry."  It gives them the chance to ask more questions about it if they are interested in my work.  If they show more interest, I'll dig in deeper about what I ACTUALLY do which is quite a bit of different tasks not all related to databases.
    But it helps to know your audience.  If you are talking to an IT person, telling them you are a database administrator but also develop software and maintain the web instances, they will know what you mean.  If my grandma asks me, I work in IT.

    The above is all just my opinion on what you should do. 
    As with all advice you find on a random internet forum - you shouldn't blindly follow it.  Always test on a test server to see if there is negative side effects before making changes to live!
    I recommend you NEVER run "random code" you found online on any system you care about UNLESS you understand and can verify the code OR you don't care if the code trashes your system.

  • tripleAxe - Monday, July 30, 2018 7:49 AM

    I normally reply that I work in IT.

    Me too!

  • I gear my response to the question of what I do, based upon my assessment of the person, taking cues from the environment. For example, if I were at a technical conference, like Microsoft Ignite (I used to be able to attend conferences), then I would give my full title. However, in more general public meetings, I'll start by asking the person where they work, to try to determine how likely it is that they'll understand what I say. If the company is technical, then I'll give my title, or say something like senior programmer analyst. If it isn't a technical company, then I just say I work with computers.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • I tend to say, "I'm a Database Administrator. It's kind of like being a digital librarian. The database stores all of our firm's information. I ensure everyone can access it and get reports on what is inside when they need it. I also fix issues when they can't get the information fast enough and make sure all of the information is backed up so we don't lose it."

    That seems to do well in describing it for most people.

    Or I say, "I work in the IT Department of our company.  But if your computer breaks, I can't fix it.  It's not that type of IT role."

  • MVDBA - Monday, July 30, 2018 8:09 AM

    This reminds me of a conversation in a nightclub about 20 years ago
    … a group of girls approached us and asked what we did for a living... unfortunately my brother was with me and brought some "normal" people out with us... my brothers 1st friend answered (truthfully)  i'm a fireman... his next friend is a fighter pilot, then a police officer and finally the last guy is a personal trainer... all with more "personal kudos" than a database guru.... myself and my brother just looked at each other and lied outright (he said priest, I said mechanic) … i'm not ashamed to be a DBA/developer, but it's not exactly a talking point.

    I really loved your description. I can just imagine it. There you are, single, in a nightclub, talking to some cute girls and you want to impress them. How do you impress after following a fireman, a fighter pilot, policeman and personal trainer? Saying your a DBA/developer at that point has as much attraction as telling them you butter toast at the local Denny's restaurant. I bet you learned how to pick better wingmen after that.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Rod at work - Monday, July 30, 2018 9:24 AM

    MVDBA - Monday, July 30, 2018 8:09 AM

    I really loved your description. I can just imagine it. There you are, single, in a nightclub, talking to some cute girls and you want to impress them. How do you impress after following a fireman, a fighter pilot, policeman and personal trainer? Saying your a DBA/developer at that point has as much attraction as telling them you butter toast at the local Denny's restaurant. I bet you learned how to pick better wingmen after that.

    that was 20 years ago... I don't need wingmen now... just pain relief, a decent monitor , a slightly longer than normal lunch break and comfortable shoes... 🙂 …. i'm sorry, but I've just become  the sandal wearing DBA that I tried not to be 😛

    MVDBA

  • MVDBA - Monday, July 30, 2018 9:34 AM

    Rod at work - Monday, July 30, 2018 9:24 AM

    MVDBA - Monday, July 30, 2018 8:09 AM

    I really loved your description. I can just imagine it. There you are, single, in a nightclub, talking to some cute girls and you want to impress them. How do you impress after following a fireman, a fighter pilot, policeman and personal trainer? Saying your a DBA/developer at that point has as much attraction as telling them you butter toast at the local Denny's restaurant. I bet you learned how to pick better wingmen after that.

    that was 20 years ago... I don't need wingmen now... just pain relief, a decent monitor , a slightly longer than normal lunch break and comfortable shoes... 🙂 …. i'm sorry, but I've just become  the sandal wearing DBA that I tried not to be 😛

    Sorry, I wasn't clear. I meant you and your brother probably decided not to a nightclub with a fireman, fighter pilot, policeman or personal trainer after that, 20 years ago. Still love that story. I've not nothing to compare to that. And, as far as being a sandal wearing DBA, yeah, I understand that. Here's a pic of mine:

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • It all depends:
    1) data librarian - my current go to.
    2) semi-retired
    3) guy in a cube with data 
    ( along with 'old' comments like, "I'm so old, my first Christmas was the first Christmas" or "I use to know a guy who wired memory cores", etc...)
    4) former Chief Software Architect for a startup
    5) I'm the one that owns the Aston Martin in the parking lot 🙂

    The more you are prepared, the less you need it.

  • I say "I'm a programmer" or "I write software".  If the other person has already told me they're technical also, I might say "Software Developer" or "Software Engineer".
    When I think deeply about this type of question ("What do you do for work?"), isn't it rather a crude thing to ask a person you don't know - almost like saying "How do you earn money to put bread on your table and a roof over your head?"

  • Unless it's someone in my field I say "computer stuff". Anything beyond that I generally get a blank stare.

    "I cant stress enough the importance of switching from a sequential files mindset to set-based thinking. After you make the switch, you can spend your time tuning and optimizing your queries instead of maintaining lengthy, poor-performing code."

    -- Itzik Ben-Gan 2001

  • If the person asking is non-technical, I'll explain that "I work with computers, half of my job is trying to get them to do what they are supposed to do, and the other half of my job is trying to figure out what people really need them to do versus what they say they want them to do."

    If the person is technical, I'll just say I'm a database administrator.  If they think that's just a fancy programmer, I'll say "it's kind of like a programmer, but you're programming to work with a bunch of data at once instead of each individual piece one at a time."

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