How to speak to your parents about your job in ‘Digital’
If you have a job in digital and struggle to explain it, you’re not alone. As the first generation to grow up with the Internet at our fingertips, the virtual world in which we play is very much second nature to us. Unfortunately the Internet is only third nature to our parents, and in some cases fourth or fifth nature. Parents like their kids to have jobs that they can immediately grasp the concept of. We all know that chefs cook food, engineers make things and lawyers prosecute Oscar Pistorius, so what exactly do we do?
Me: *Shows mom social post from a campaign I worked on*
Mom: So is this an advert?
Me: Not exactly.
Mom: What did you do?
Me: I wrote the copy.
Mom: What’s the copy?
Me: The words.
Mom: So you write short sentences?
We should know that describing ourselves as ‘Digital Creative’, ‘Interaction Designer’ or ‘Social Strategist’ on our LinkedIn profiles won’t do our parents any favours. And don’t even get me started on UX specialists. Even I struggle to know what is happening there. When parents are pressed as to what exactly their sons or daughters do all day at a ‘Digital Agency’, most will resign to a vague reply like “they make websites” or “they do The Facebook”. Considering how digital is a beast that is constantly mutating, how is it possible to pin down your purpose?
Here are some ways:
- Mention your clients
If you’re looking to make your career in digital feel more tangible to your parents, you may want to mention the brands your agency works with. Don’t talk about what you do, but who you do it for. “I help sell more cars for X” is a far clearer message than “I do community management for X”. Bascially, if you focus on describing the goals of your work, instead of the details of how you achieve it, you’ll at least have a solid foundation to work off of.
- Talk about your day
This strategy will require them to listen in for an entire season of ‘A day in the life of…’ before things begin to stick. When you feel them catching on, slowly start drip feeding them new terminology like ‘Through the Line’ and ‘SEO optimisation’ to keep them on their toes. Over time, they’ll be totally hip-with-the-lingo and keen to contribute ideas to your next hack-a-thon. Remember to leave out the parts of the day that involve table tennis tournaments or cake tables, it will only complicate the conversation.
- Give up and lie
If neither of these strategies work, pass the buck and ask one of your siblings to try and explain it better. Maybe try emailing them a link to a more useful article that actually does explain your job in digital – assuming your parents know how links work…