One day a couple of years ago, two of my sisters were visiting me for my birthday. It was close to the holidays and I knew that work would be slow and that I could get away with working a half day, as long as I put in an appearance in the morning and did some time-sensitive things. I also wanted to show our new, state-of-the art facility off to my family. Since I work for a fairly well-known and popular company, I thought that was something my sisters would enjoy. Then we'd be able to enjoy the rest of the day together.
As I sat at my workstation doing...stuff, my sisters kept themselves entertained by reading some magazines and books they had brought with them and asking me an occasional question about what I was doing.
I completed my requisite activities, wrapped up my day, turned off my computer and we left. On the way out to the car, my one sister said, "Well, that was nice, but I still don't know what you do."
The problem is, somedays I don't either.
Well, I do know, but unless you work in my industry and speak the foreign language I speak (hint, not Spanish), it's not fun to try and explain to a layman. That makes one of my least favorite questions, "What do you do?"
Instead of trying to explain what I do, it's easier to tell you what I don't:
* Fix your computer
* Fix my computer (I have a technophile friend to do that for me, and it's not even her industry)
* Wear a big furry costume and take pictures with your kid. Or anyone else's. (Except for that one time, but that's another story).
* Write code. No, I don't work for the CIA. That's computer talk. If you don't know what that means, you're the person I couldn't even begin to explain what I do for a living.
* Get you into any amusement parks for free or discounted.
Sometimes I try to put people off by answering with my title, but it's a meaningless title with my department and "Senior Analyst" in it. It really only exists for HR purposes. So then I try to make it generic, "I'm an IT analyst." The problem with that answer is that about half the people I talk to know what IT stands for and the other half don't. The half that do think that means I'm going to be their beck and call computer gal and fix their computer for them.
The half that don't know what that means get yet another answer -- "I do computer stuff," after which point THEY think that I'm going to be their go-to computer gal.
If I sense that someone will have no concept of IT or computers or are otherwise apathetic, I placate by providing the name of the company I work for. I usually try to avoid this answer because this then conjures the image of me putting on a big furry costume to take my picture with your kid.
Worse still is when someone assumes that means I like them enough to get them and their extended family of 82 into an amusement park at a discounted rate or free. Nope, definitely not that. I don't even get that good of a discount.
Things I do (do):
* Write requirements specifications and other technical documents
* Analyze systems and business processes and make recommendations for improvements
* Manage projects
* Liaison between Enterprise IT and my division service managers to coordinate things like patch releases, upgrades, fixes and other changes that impact clusters, servers or applications
* Create ICOM, swim lane, business flow and process flow diagrams
* Create and maintain technical policies and request forms
* Work with end users to understand and document their processes so that those can be understood by more technical people and then developed into an application to then be used by a business person.
* Manage the contractor (SOW) request and creation process for hiring managers
* Create disaster recovery documents
...And that's why I give you the answer I do when you ask me that dreaded question, "So, what do you do?" Isn't it more fun to envision me in that furry costume than think of spreadsheets?