What do you do for a living?
Continuing yesterday’s theme of identity, describing what you do for a living can be tricky if you don’t work in a well-known profession. If someone tells you they’re a doctor, teacher, lawyer or police officer, you have a pretty good idea what their job entails. However, if you work in such professions as web development, computer programming, management consultancy, etc, many people don’t really understand what you do.
Many of us define ourselves by our jobs. We say “I am an X” or “I work as a Y”. We also define ourselves in other ways, including by sex, race, age, nationality, language(s) spoken, interests, and/or in terms of our families and our position/roles therein.
In my case, my current job title is “Web Developer”, but few people understand what that entails. There are in fact many different specialisms under the umbrella of web development – my particular specialism is building multilingual websites. So I usually just tell people that I build and translate websites. This often prompts questions like “Do you design the sites as well?”, and “Are you a translator then?” – in answer to which I explain that someone else usually does the design and translation. My role is to turn the designs into websites, and to add the translations to them, which involves a lot of copying and pasting. I think my parents just tell people that I work with computers and/or do something with websites.
The company I work for (Study Group) is even more difficult to describe, so usually I just say that I work for a college.
Sometimes I tell people I’m a circus performer or translator. I could also claim to be a musician or teacher. I do occasionally do translations and act as an interpreter, and used to do these things more often. I did work as a teacher (of English) for a while in Taiwan, and sometimes help friends with various languages. I also teach juggling and other circus skills to anybody who wants to learn them, on an informal basis, and occasionally perform in public. I play, or used to play, the clarinet, saxophone, tin whistles, and a few other instruments. I used to play with wind bands, big bands and an orchestra, and have performed with these groups in parts of England and France.