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‘So What Do You Do?’: how to answer that awkward question

Networking is great, meeting new people is always fun but it always poses the same question.”So what do you do?” Several years ago this question was probably a lot easier to answer. Careers were simpler, lasted longer, were more one dimensional, less options were available for women. The workplace is changing and there is increased access to a range of roles and opportunities. Now, a growing number of us have more than one job that we would say we ‘do’. So how do we answer?


Rattling off more than one job can feel awkward, even pretentious, as part of a getting-to-know-you conversation. For example, I am a primary school teacher, I write for a couple of publications and blog, plus I paint murals.

My main income is from the teaching, I get paid for the murals when commissioned, and the writing is currently unpaid. If I just say I am a teacher, I feel like I am leaving a big part of myself out, as much as I love teaching and am extremely proud of it. It’s also frustrating if someone else replies with their own job and they turn out to be a writer or artist. It is hard to then say “me too!” without seeming desperate! However, I feel unable to list all three. It feels too much like showing off.

This is even harder for those who don’t enjoy their main employment. Roles that people take on voluntarily or do in their spare time are often their true vocations. They say more about that person’s personality and interests than their everyday job. It certainly might be something they would prefer to discuss as part of a conversation. Yet, the majority of people will still only share the job which is their primary source of income, hiding what might be an important, interesting part of their daily life. Furthermore, not sharing these roles might prevent contacts from being made. It could even mean missing out on potential work. Who knows who you might be sat next to?

This is not an uncommon situation to be in, plenty of us juggle several types of work, for different reasons. We should all be proud of our abilities to do this. Happy to share them all and discuss them with others. Some of my most fun conversations come from when I was brave enough to add “and I write a travel blog and contribute to Debut magazine” after the teaching. Perhaps it is best to risk coming across as a bit of a show-off but be able to talk about the things that you are passionate about.  So, for those of us doing this, let’s be brave!

Words By: Lydia Morgan
Socials: @ourdreamsincolour


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The UK's first Career & Lifestyle Magazine for women in the Creative and Media industries.

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