Describing my job to ‘normal people’

As is normal, we all do the “what-do-you-do” thing, which, if you are a doctor, or a journalist, management consultant is pretty much a nod of the head and some mumble of recognition. But when you are in computers there is enough savvy for people to ask – “what sort of computing ?”

I am a Plumber ?

My favourite is: I am computer plumber. If you think of every computer as a toilet, then when you flush, the contents go somewhere. Right ? So I am guy who makes all those connections between the toilets, I just for computers.If they still ask the question, or look like they comprehend that:I connect all the computers into suburbs, then into towns, then cities. Then I build the sewerage treatment plant, you might know it as a firewall, its a bit more complicated than that, but near enough. Then I push the contents all the way into the Ocean, which is the Internet.That’s how I am a plumber.

Highway worker

Sometimes, when I am looking for something really,really shortIf the Internet is the information super highway, then I am a guy who builds the highway.

Doctor versus Surgeon

If I get into a discussion about how I am different from the ‘guy who fixes your computer’, then I use a metaphor for Doctor vs Surgeon. A Doctor works in general practice and knows a little about a lot of things. A Surgeon is a specialist in specific medical area, and has some specific skills. Well, I am like a surgeon for technology, but I am not very good at repairing your home computer.

When I was much younger…

When I first started out in IT, it was distinctly uncool to ‘do computers’. It was so bad that I invented different jobs for myself to impress the ladies. These days however, people definitely see technology in a different light and are genuinely impressed, and even interested.

How do you do it ?

I am wondering how you describe your job to other people ? I would be interested to hear from you. Leave a comment if you don’t mind. I am looking for a new way to describe myself.

  • jumbo

    I usually say that I am a programmer :) People tend to think a lot more about programmers – certainly more than about ëguy who fixes your computerí

    Yes I know it is a lie however …. I certainly do not want them to think that I am a plumber :)


  • Christian

    This was always a tricky one for me too – “im a network engineer/security engineer” but what do you do exactly? Do you fix computers?

    Now i just tell people that I stop hackers and bad guys from breaking into banks and other companies…

  • http://vecimanetworks Raouf

    I have worked in several areas , as: Network engineer , ASIC designer/verifier, Wireless engineer , Hi Tech board repairer … and recently Network analyst and mess around with Linux , Cisco, Digital A/V solution ,WiMAX … .

    And I don’t know finally where I will be ended up in !

    When someone asks me what do you do , I just say : Electrical/Computer Engineer!

  • Roy

    This has always been an area that has “bugged me” as I’ve replied network engineer, got quizzical stares and then had to try & explain in laymans terms what I do.
    In fact, Im sure that a lot of my relatives think my job is to “fix computers”
    They certainly contact me whenever they have a problem with their pc!

    I think ill just use “I fix computer networks” in future and leave it at that.

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  • wassim

    I just tell people I make networks and let people have Internet!

  • Atle

    How about this one-

    I diagnose, troubleshoot, build, engineer and design computer networks.