in Digital Web

Web professionals as washing machine installers (Or explaining what we do)

I don’t know about you, but I’m often confronted by lots of people who don’t know what it is I do for a living. I can’t count the number of times that someone in my life — my mom, a friend or someone else — has said, “I just told them I know you do something with computers…with the internet…but I don’t really understand it.”

A few months ago, I was driving home and ended up behind an espresso machine repair service. With the tons of coffee shops that have cropped up in recent years, this makes a lot of sense. But I’d never before considered how the market for espresso machine repairmen have problem increased pretty substantially in recent years. It’s not a job anybody needs a four-year degree for and I imagine for the first ones to hit the market in certain communities, it’s a gig you can parlay into a lot of work if you build up a clientele.

I have a bit of an elevator pitch I’ve refined in recent months when explaining my current work. Invariably, people are impressed because I’ve synthesized it to the point where it kinda makes sense, but I realize that in saying, “I lead an in-house web team for a large college system,” it’s not really saying anything because the difference between me and say, the guy I saw on the way home who was parked at a neighbor’s house since he’s a washing machining installer; is not many people would be confused about what he does.

I’ve been saying some variation of this message for months now, but so long as people view web work as magic and not real work, we’ll never get anywhere. Maybe it’s not necessary for ordinary people to have a handle on the jobs. People are making lots of money without anyone having any idea what they’re up to. But it’s not a sustainable pathway to the future.