What Keeps You Employed?

I get asked this question regularly each year as I start coaching volleyball: “what do you do?” New parents are always interested in what the coach does outside of running their kids around a court. This year, I actually got asked this question a couple weekends ago at the final tournament by a parent that I’d talked to many times, but this was the first time we had an extended conversation. It’s always a little funny to explain what I do, since it’s a mix of quite a few jobs, most of which are somewhat out or the ordinary.

There was an interesting post from Pamela Mooney recently that reminded me that many of us perform jobs that are a little harder to describe to others. Or maybe we are a bit too literal in how we communicate and struggle to concisely express our job responsibilities. In any case, I like the analogies that Pamela makes to the medical industry where there are many specialties with vastly different skills. It’s similar for data professionals, though there are really many less potential specialties. Pamela has a general definition that covers lots of things:

DBAs are the guardians and facilitators of the company’s data.

Guardians covers most of the administrative responsibilities. Protect it with backups and security, ensure it’s still there, and more. Facilitator might be more development focused, but availability and performance would certainly fall under this description as well. The more I think about it, the more I think this is a good general description.

One that’s not likely to mean much to laymen.

I’m sure most of you have had to answer the question at some point in the past. Thinking about it now, without the pressure to respond in real time, how would you easily describe what you do? What do you say about your job? Perhaps you talk about the parts that you really like, or that things you are proud to do. Maybe you mention the things that annoy you the most.

Let us know today what you respond with, and try to do better than the generic I often give: “I’m a computer guy.”

Steve Jones

Listen to the podcast at Libsyn

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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1 Response to What Keeps You Employed?

  1. pianorayk says:

    One thing I’ve learned — and this is a point of emphasis in my “talking to non-techies” SQL Saturday presentation — is that it’s okay to keep it high level. I once worked for a boss who was fond of saying “don’t tell me how to build the clock; just tell me what time it is!”

    I agree — a tech person should say more than “I’m the computer guy,” but (s)he doesn’t (and shouldn’t) need to get into the granular detail, either. When I’m asked, “I work in tech” or “I work in IT” is often enough, but if they want to know more, I’ll answer with “I’m a tech writer/I’m the documentation guy who happens to know about databases and development” (or something along those lines).

    And if a person wants to know more, that’s when it becomes a conversation, not just a quick description — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That’s when it starts becoming a networking relationship. Who knows — maybe a job opportunity will come out of that conversation!

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