Talking About What You Do In English
In social settings we are often asked what it is we do for a living, which refers to one’s job or occupation. There are a number of things that one can say whether you are talking about what you do or inquiring about what someone else does. We are going to take a look at a list of expressions below.
Expressions Used When Giving Information About Your Job:
“I’m a teacher/lawyer/technician…”
“I’m a professional student/student.” (A professional student who stays in school for many years).
“I’m a stay-at-home mom.”
“I oversee the technical department.”
“I am a self-employee.”
“I work from home.”
“I sometimes work from home and the office other times.”
“I travel (sometimes/a lot/…) for my job/work.”
“I am usually away from the office.”
“I primarily run my real estate business out of my home.”
“I am a customer service representative.”
“I work part-time/full-time as an office manager/teacher/internet technician…”
Expressions When Inquiring About What Someone Does:
“What does your job involve/entail?”
“What do you do (for a living).?”
“What does Optometrist/packer… mean?
“What do podiatrists/prosecutors/… do?”
“Do you work full-time/part-time?”
“Are you a full-time/part-time employee?”
“Do you travel for your job/work?”
“Do you travel a lot?”
“Do you work from home or the office?”
“What are your responsibilities?”
“Does your job pay well?”
“What’s your annual salary?” (This question can be quite personal depending on the person and the job).
“Do you get a lot of time off or a lot of vacation days?
“Do you study or do you work?”
“Do you work and go to school (part-time)?”
“Are you a full-time/part-time student?”
“What’s your major?”
“What are you majoring in?”
“What subject are you studying/majoring in?”
“How long have you been in school?”
“What university/college are you going to?”
“When do you graduate?”
“What do you want to do when you graduate?”
“How did you choose/decide on your major?”
“Why did you choose that school?”
“Is the tuition high/a lot?”
“Are books/texts/text books costly?”
“What are your grades like?”
“Do you like university/college life?”
“Do you live at home/on/off campus?”
“What is student life like (in university/college)?”
Now let’s take a look at another way to use the expressions above.
Jiao was on her way to her 10AM lecture when John stopped her to ask for directions.
John: Excuse me. Do you know how to get to room 301?
Jiao: Yes, I am heading to my 10 o’clock lecture in room 304B. You can follow me if you like.
John: Thank you. I would really appreciate that.
Jiao: Are you new here?
John: Yes, I am. It’s my first year here. How about you?
Jiao: This is my last year here. I am graduating in June of next year.
John: That’s great! Good for you. What’s your major?
Jiao: Thank you. I am majoring in business finance and political science. How about you?
John: I am majoring in Internet technology. However, I did my masters in business 10 years ago at Harvard. I just wanted to get out of the workforce and do something a little different. To be honest, I just needed a change.
Jiao: That’s also impressive. That means you have a lot of work experience! What did you do?
John: Well, I was the Chief Financial Officer for GE; General Electric. Which is a Fortune 500 company.
Jiao: What does a Chief Financial Officer do?
John: I was in charge of finance. I am in charge of training the finance unit and other staff members regarding finance management matters. I am also responsible for developing new business for the company and overseeing all purchases. It was very demanding.
Jiao: Wow… It sounds like it! But I am sure you were paid well.
John: Yes, I had a six figure salary. What do you plan to do with your business finance and political science major?
Jiao: I want to do what you did. However, right now I am looking forward to completing my masters in business. Here we are! There is room 301.
John: Thank you for your help. It was nice talking to you.
Jiao: No problem. See you around.
Create a dialog using the phrases and dialog above as a guide.
You: What do you do?
Your friend: I’m a __________ (job/student).
You: Where do you go to school?/What does that entail?
Your friend: _______________ (describe your job/major/student life).
Switch roles and continue practicing. Try to keep the dialog or conversation until you are comfortable with it.
six figure salary – Refers to a job that pays at least 100 000 dollars. It’s called “six figures” because there are six figures to the left of the decimal place.
oversee – to watch and direct usually a project or a task.
in charge of – to be responsible for something.
To be honest – just another way of saying “honestly” or to be direct or frank with someone.
entail – to be involved in something.
See you around – It means to see you again sometime or in passing. You can also say “see you later” in place of it. However, keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will see the person again.