“So, what do you do?”

“I’m a marketer for an aerospace company”. That’s my typical response when someone asks, “So, what do you do?” What’s odd, though, is that my response tends to be the same in every situation. Random person at the gym? I’m a marketer. Old family friend in the church parking lot? I’m doing marketing. Long-lost cousin at the family reunion? I’m a Marketing Coordinator.

As my husband and I consider our future, we’ve talked a lot about what we want to “do”. I think it’s somewhat backwards that my standard response for what I “do” revolves solely around my job. It’s also silly, because as a proportion of my life, I’ve been doing marketing for the least amount of time, relative to a number of other things I “do”. I’ve been doing scrapbooking for more than 10 years. I’ve been doing exercise for my whole life. I’ve been singing and acting since I was 5! But now what do I do? I do marketing. This isn’t totally true, because I STILL do scrapbooking, exercising, and stage work. Why are we so hung up on what we do FOR MONEY?

Sometimes, I even warp the question by answering, “I work in marketing at an aerospace company.” They didn’t ask me where I work, they asked me what I do! And yet, most of the time, they really mean to ask about my job. Why is it that we only “do” a job? If doing = money, then I could realistically say that I’m an actor, since I’ve received money for acting and singing (trust me, not an hourly wage you’d want to work for!).

I’m at a point my life where my focus is on building my career. I’m pursuing the MBA, I’m networking, I’m expanding my reach. But, at the end of the day, I’m not just a marketer. Sometimes I worry that the rest of my layers will get so lost in “being a marketer” that eventually, that’s all I’ll be! I think that would be unfortunate, to truly have only one answer to the question, “So, what do you do?” This is kind of like the time I thought about issuing a challenge to do something stupid, but I couldn’t get past my own scheduling conflicts to actually accept the challenge.  I would love to commit to answering, “Lots of things,” but I fear that will make me seem unfocused, less driven, and less ambitious in my career. My colleagues are always surprised to find out that I do musicals and send hand-made Christmas cards, and most of them have no idea that I blog regularly and I’ve been featured on Forbes.  So, what do you do? Do your friends, family, and colleagues know that you do more than just business?

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