Communicating Your Progeekery

You're a progeek, profan, protaku – or want to be.  You're working hard your career, you're living your dreams.  You're a pinnacle of potential – and perhaps are even realizing it.

Except people don't get it.

You know the drill.  You meet people who figure that hobby of yours is useless.  You have to explain again and again that you do actually get paid for what you do.  You have people wondering why you "waste your time" on the things you love.  Yep, it's the usual "how how can that make you a living" routine we're all sick of.

So, let me ask this: Are you going out of the way to communicate with your critics?

As annoying as it is to explain that you've researched your career for the umpteenth time, as tiring as it is to keep telling people you do get paid for what you do, you're facing a weird cultural impasse.  The simple fact of the matter is some people have very odd assumptions about careers – namely that some things you "just can't make a living at" and of course that you can't do what you like for a living.  Yes, it's a pain, but that's the way it is.

So you, my fellow and future progeeks, might as well get use to the idea that a little communication is in order:

  • Go out of your way – indeed, be pre-emptive – in explaining the value of what you do as a hobby and how it applies to your career (or vice versa).  Don't overdo it, but think ahead.
  • Keep some handy statistics and information around to offset common criticisms.  Be it your current pay rate or your industry's current profits, you can make the points you need.
  • Don't restrain from sending people "helpful" links that help counter their criticisms.  It also shows you're aware of your career.
  • Be able to have a narrative – be able to tell your career story (or future career story) so people get how it hangs together.
  • Show results.  It's good to focus on results anyway, but when you can show off that paycheck, job, interview, what have you it makes the point that you know what you're doing.

Nope, I don't like the situation where it seems we progeeks end up explaining ourselves over and over.  That's the way it is, so we can prepare for it and deal with it.  Maybe that annoying situation can change in time – if we keep at it.

Besides, if you can't communicate your progeek career plans and knowledge, then maybe you really do have a problem . . .

– Steven Savage