Top 10 Ways to Answer the Question: What Do You Do?

Around this time last year, I wrote a post about how hard it was to answer the dreaded questions about what I do for a living when talking to family and friends during the holidays. It didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t the only who dreads this question, based on the many comments.

To provide you with some holiday ammunition or just a little holiday humor, here are a few of my favorite stories from the comments last year.

Deanna Zandt:

“I often try to make a joke first, it takes the weird edge off for some reason.

Them: So what do you do?
Me: I don’t know…
Them: What?
Me: I don’t know. I get up in the morning, and there’s a laptop there, and I sit at it and type things… [drift off]
Them: Um…
Me: I’m just kidding. I’m a consultant who does online strategy and builds web sites. It’s a weird job and it’s a blast.”

Steve Robillard:

“Me: ‘I am a consultant, I work mostly with higher ed.’

them: ‘Oh, so you work for yourself, I wish I could do that. I would work so much less. It must be great.’

Me: ‘Yeah except every time I try to call in sick I get a busy signal.'”


“‘Must be nice to get to sit in front of a computer all day and surf the web.’

‘Yeah, I used to have to commute to an office to do that, but it’s much better now.'”

Travis Chillemi:

My least favorite goes like this:

Them: ‘What do you do?’
Me: ‘I am a web designer.’
Them: ‘Oh! My dentist also does web design. He/She is really good with Frontpage and stuff. He/She even has their own web site. It has something to do with Geocities…’
Me: ‘Yeah. I do dental work on the side, too. I even have my own drill and chair.’
Them: ‘Huh?'”

Taylor Brooks:

“Knowing that the conversation is probably doomed for awkwardness from the jump, I just tell people I’m in the adult film business or a drug dealer. At least you can control (or attempt) to control the awkwardness.”

Jason Glaspey:

“I just tell people that I make the internets.”

Amber Case:

“My entire family asks me to teach them search engine optimization. I want to wear a T-shirt that says ‘No, I will not optimize your web site!'”


“I usually just say ‘I’m a computer programmer.’ It usually scares them off of any other questions. If I get too deep, their eyes glaze over.”


“I do the internets voodoo!”


“When I get the glazed-over look, I just say I’m a part-time rodeo clown/psychologist. I’m in marketing, so I’m not actually lyin’…”

What are your favorite answers to the question: What do you do?

Photo by Flickr user Ed Yourdon used under Creative Commons


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