That cover letter that you had your high school English teacher edit must have really been impressive, because you sir, are employed. Since graduation, you have seen the questions switch drastically from “Where do you go to school?” and “What is your major?” to the more complicated “Where are you working?” and “What do you do?” You could go through this phase of your life answering the question different ways to high school friends, college friends, your parents’ friends, that homeless guy on 5th Avenue who you’ve created a bond with, and anyone else who feels the need to pretend to give a shit. Or you could do the smart thing and come up with one concise answer that gives enough information with the understanding that those questions are a courtesy and not actually a serious inquiry.
Your Industry Is Not Your Job
You know John who has lived across the street from you since you were 6 years old? Remember when John came over for dinner a few nights ago and you asked him where he was working? Remember when he answered “I work in finance?” Remember when you had to bail yourself out of jail after you beat the ever loving shit out of him because that is the worst answer of all time? Don’t be John. If someone asks what you are doing, and you simply state the industry that you work in, a couple of things go through their head. First, not only do they have no idea what you do because you gave an answer with absolutely no value, it is also safe for them to assume that you have no idea what you’re doing. This leads to assumptions of nepotism and douchebaggery that you should probably stray away from as a general rule of thumb. Unless you’re talking to the aforementioned homeless man, you should assume that the person you’re talking to is educated enough to get the gist of what you do. Don’t be a pretentious asshole – don’t be John.
Now before you take that last suggestion too literally, you need to also know that the day-to-day of your entry level job is not that interesting. I don’t care if you work for Facebook or Google: you’re not that important. These people are asking these questions because this is how conversations work now, not because they necessarily give a shit. You’ll also notice that if you start explaining what it is you really do, you will realize how menial the tasks you complete on a daily basis are. The second you say, “Well yesterday I did a bunch of v-lookups and sent a spreadsheet over to my boss,” I’m going to need you to shut your mouth. Just shut – just shut your mouth.
This really builds off everything we’ve already discussed: just tell people what you do. Don’t try to make it sound more interesting than it is by talking about shit that you don’t actually do. You’ll run into people who actually do that stuff and then you will look like a complete idiot. The second someone catches you lying about what you do then everything you have said is irrelevant. You’re title of Business Development Director is much less impressive when you need to answer follow up questions about what that actually means.
The bottom line has always been and will always be, until the end of time, when all is said in done and push comes to shove, it really comes down to honesty. You’re not Frank Abagnale and you can’t bullshit anyone; just let people know what’s really up and your life will be so much less stressful.