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What do you do?

  • Planted:

Chris Coyier wrote about what he does. I’ve never quite been satisfied with my answer to “what do you do?” when people casually ask. It’s one of those small things that I get asked all the time but never really care enough to work on. But maybe I should, because if you say the right thing it can lead to interesting conversations (or better yet, asking the right questions to the person you’re talking to about what they do).

When I was an investment banker I especially wasn’t a fan of answering that question, probably because I wasn’t super proud of the job or I didn’t think it fit my identity or it didn’t lead to interesting conversations. Back then I started to think I should specifically find a job that is immediately explainable, like my brother’s: “I’m a middle school English teacher.”

Nowadays I usually say, “I’m a software engineer,” or “I make websites,” or some variation including “programmer,” “coder,” “web developer,” etc. Ironically, what I want to work on next—devtools—can be hard to explain and dry to most people. But I’ve come around to feeling totally ok doing something that I can’t explain on a 6-word bumper sticker.

What do you do?



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