How to describe your startup job to Grandpa — when he doesn't use the internet

by Tessa McLean
April 26, 2016

If you're anything like me, you've encountered the inevitable question at a family party: "What are you doing for work these days?" Realizing your audience is a little more than over the hill, you struggle to transcribe what you do in the simplest terms possible — only to have the explanation barely resemble what you actually do. 

We asked four Colorado tech employees with technical or unique jobs that likely weren't around 30 years ago to tell us how they explain their position to Gramps. Here's what they said:

 

Nick Connor, Data Scientist at

 
How would you describe the job to a co-worker?​​ I would say that I manage our ad ranking and optimization programs from top-to-bottom, including machine learning systems and data recording, transfer and loading. As a team, we work on maximizing a variety of parameters including user experience, lead quality and monetization.
 
How would you describe your job to your grandpa? As a data scientist at AppThis, I study how people behave and interact with advertisements on the web and run experiments to turn it into a better experience. This involves tracking what sites people are visiting, the times of day they are online, what they read and watch and click on, and much much more. With all that data and some fancy statistics, it is my job to teach our system to deliver advertisements you are most interested in.
 

Hannah Zwick, Account Director at 

How would you describe the job to a co-worker?​​ Top Hat is a cloud based platform college professors use to run their lectures, allowing them to take attendance, automate quizzing/grading/questions asking with full participation, and present their lecture materials. Professors can also author their own interactive course materials for a fair price to save students money on traditional textbooks. As an Account Director, I'm responsible for a handful of universities across the country, reaching out to professors, demoing the two halves to the platform, and bringing professors who want to adopt Top Hat into our onboarding process for the coming semester.
 
How would you describe your job to your grandpa?  I sign college professors up for our platform so they can set up their classes to send attendance and questions and presentations to their students' phones, computers, and tablets to help improve their students' grades and participation, since it's hard for everyone to volunteer answers when classes are big. Basically day to day, I call professors to schedule and run demonstrations, showing them how it works, and helping them figure out what parts they want to use, so that when we train them between semesters, we can make sure Top Hat will actually be improving their classes.
 
 

Britt Boggs, Technical Support Representative at 

How would you describe your job to your coworker? I act as the liaison between our product engineers and our customers. I help our customers diagnose bugs and identify feature requests. Then, I dig in and find all of the technical, behind-the-scenes details and give them to the product team. When our engineers come back with technical updates and/or questions, I translate them into customer friendly responses.
 
How would you describe your job to your grandpa? Think of me like a translator for a very demanding foreign diplomat staying at the hotel you own. The diplomat has a million demands and requests — the water is too cold, their closet door fell off its hinges, their slippers aren't fuzzy enough — and I'm in charge of keeping them happy. I translate the requests for the hotel staff, help the staff prioritize what to get done first, and report our progress back to the diplomat in their native language.
 

Elizabeth Cadkin, Director, Product Management – Mobile Products at

We're located West of Denver off of I-70 Westbound in the Denver West Office Park in Golden, Colorado. Awesome from lunchtime hikes & mountain biking.

How would you describe your job to a coworker? My primary focus is to understand and anticipate our customers’ needs as well as technical advancements in the mobile and smart home industries. Through a number of research tactics, I identify the next, best thing we can build to deliver a great mobile solution to our customers.
 
How would you describe your job to your grandpa? My grandpa ran a successful cattle operation in Montana. He was aware of everything (big and small) going on at his feedlot and was always focused on how to produce a better and more profitable product.  I would tell him that I aspire to do what he did – but with small, wireless computing devices that have access to the Internet. At which point he would ask me, “What’s the Internet???”
 
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