That Line for “Occupation” on Forms
After nearly a year with my kids at home, I am trying to re-enroll my 3-year-old in preschool. I worked on the application this morning and paused when I got to the line for “occupation.”
I began a new job less than a month ago. Not only that, but I completely changed careers. I had to take a moment to look at that line and think about what I would write.
Honestly, I have always had trouble with that line. I never had a career with a straightforward answer like “teacher” or “dentist.” I worked for a software company for 15 years, but when most people think software, they think of programmers. I think I used to write “software implementation” and then later “product manager.” My final role involved a long title (of my own creation) trying to encompass the fact that I had taken on an executive role, managed the customer service department, and still operated as the product manager. It was a mouthful.
That conversation starter of “what do you do for a living?” was always awkward for me. I’m a…. what? Depending on the situation, I would usually reply with a brief “I work for a banking software company” and leave it at that.
Turns out, my new role in content marketing is even trickier.
First, the form wanted a “work phone number” and I was tempted to write in “there is no phone number… we use email, Slack, and Zoom” but finally left the space blank. Then I finally settled on “marketing” for a job description even though what I do (write things) is far from what most people think of with marketing.
Then yesterday I was prompted with a Covid survey to help with ongoing research and I thought “Sure, why not.” After answering that I’ve not been in contact with anyone who has Covid, not experienced any symptoms of Covid, and generally not left the house, I was given the following question:
Please select the occupational group that best fits the main kind of work you were doing in the last four weeks.
There was nothing like marketing or advertising, so I finally chose “arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media.” Then on the next screen, I was prompted to choose a subcategory from: art worker, design worker, entertainer or performer, sports and related worker, media and communications worker, media and communications equipment worker, or any other arts, design, entertainment, support, or media worker.
At a glance, you’d think “media and communications worker” would fit, but in parentheses it listed announcer, analyst, reporter, editor, translator. So I checked the big ol’ “other” box.
It has also been interesting to describe what I do to people who are curious. My dad wanted to know why any company would pay for someone to write blog posts for them. I said “Well, not everyone can write” which he acknowledged is very true. I interviewed with three different people for this role and said in each “there’s a lot of crap on the internet.” Creating meaningful content that people actually want to read takes skill.
Yet “writer” sounds very lofty and nondescript. Like I am working on my own novel. I somehow need to settle into the words — and description — of what I do that can be succinctly stated when that question invariably comes up: What do you do?