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4 Ways To Help Your Family Understand Your Tech Job

It’s holiday time! And, even though you love your job, you’re looking forward to sleeping late and maybe even ignoring your laptop for a couple days in a row. But be warned! You probably can’t completely avoid thinking about work.

It’s not that you need to be answering emails or tweaking the site that your team will be unveiling next month. But, it’s pretty likely that, at some point during a holiday dinner or after wrapping gifts together, someone will ask you, “Hey, what exactly is it that you do for a living?”

You’re probably already sighing just at the thought of trying to explain your job yet again to someone who isn’t in the tech industry or even interested in tech. But, instead of just mumbling “I work with computers” and then shuffling off to watch “Frozen” for the sixth time in a row with your nieces, you owe it to your loved ones (and yourself for that matter!) to describe your job so that they can understand what you do. After all, they’re asking because they care about you and want to know how you spend your days. And you work hard so you deserve their admiration of your amazing achievements, don’t you?!

Here are four ways you can clear up the mystery of your profession without resorting to dumbing it down or giving up in frustration.

Define it
Your relatives are no dummies, but they don’t work in tech. So, they can’t imagine how words like “back-end”, “gem” or “framework” have anything to do with what you do. So, don’t just throw terms around and assume they’ll get it. Explain the most important jargon, and your boyfriend’s dad will be one step closer to understanding how it all relates to your Ruby development work.

Connect it
Don’t underestimate your uncle who always takes care of your beloved Corgi when you go away for the weekend. He almost certainly uses tech in some way. Find out how – maybe he pays his bills online or uses Google to research his family history. Try to connect what he does to what you do to. Say, for example, “I work on websites like the one you use to pay your bills. Since I’m a user interface designer, I decide things like how parts of the page should look and work – like the size and color of buttons or what the menus do when you click on them.

Show it
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, showing your work could be worth a million. Open up the HTML email newsletters you’ve created for your company or point out the website menu animations that you coded in JavaScript and jQuery, and your cousins will soon be nodding their heads in understanding when you talk about your job.

Do it
It’s more than likely that the people close to you have never thought about how to style text with CSS or choose a color palette. Why not give them the chance? They’ll get a much better idea of what web design entails that way. So, open up your text editor and show your mom what happens when you change the font size from 10px to 30px or whip out the color wheel and work with her to pick a three-color palette. Or she can even learn some tech terms and try some coding herself by signing up for our free Skillcrush 10-day Bootcamp.

Hopefully these tips will make it easier to talk about your job with the people you love without the conversation ending in “Never mind”! But, if they still can’t quite comprehend what you do from day to day, don’t let it bother you too much. Just reassure everyone that, since you work in tech, you have a great salary, interesting work, fun colleagues and flexible hours. They might not totally get what you do to earn all that, but at least they’ll feel better knowing you have such a good job.

And, if you don’t have that terrific career yet, you can get the skills you need for web design, web development or WordPress development in our Skillcrush Blueprints. Our next Blueprint session is starting in January so stay tuned for info about signing up soon. And get ready to proudly explain your fantastic new job to your family at next year’s holiday get-together!

Kelli Smith

Kelli handles customer support here at Skillcrush – plus she's an early alum of Skillcrush 101! She's also taken advanced web development classes and has been an organizer in the Helsinki Rails Girls chapter.

In addition to helping the Skillcrush team and students, Kelli loves tech podcasts, cute Corgi photos and, most of all, catalan-style line dancing – as a true Texan living in Finland would!

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