Written by Joanne Sacco

How to Explain Being a DevOps Engineer to your Grandma

My grandma makes a mean batch of pumpkin scones and she plays canasta with the best of them.
She’s from a time when Java was an exotic coffee, PERL was something she wore around her neck, and LAMBADA was a forbidden dance.
So whenever nanna (or anyone else outside of the tech industry, for that matter) asks me “So what do you ACTUALLY do?” it’s often a difficult question to answer.
Nothing kills the Christmas dinner conversation faster than answering… “I’m responsible for implementing automation initiatives and achieving calibration and integration between the development and infrastructure teams. I love a good code release, and don’t get me started on infrastructure as code…”
Explaining your role as a DevOps Engineer eloquently isn’t just important for avoiding awkward pauses with grandma.
The ability to clearly define your role in plain business language will help you achieve better business and career outcomes.
It will help you gain buy-in from senior leadership on new technology initiatives, and will help you become irreplaceable to your management team.
So how can DevOps Engineers explain our roles to grandma? (and the CEO?)
Keep it simple and explain it in terms of desired outcomes:

  • I help technology teams cooperate better
  • I make sure our technology does what it’s supposed to
  • I make sure our technology fits together properly

If probed, then I’d answer:
I help the people that make our software, and the people that manage our IT hardware, work together better on shared goals.
If nanna still isn’t satisfied with that answer, then feel free to discuss the merits of Chef vs. Puppet vs. Ansible at length. That will teach her!
At the end of the day, nanna really just wants to know that you’re doing okay. Reassure her that you are in a very sought-after role with variety, opportunity, and progression.
And after all that, your nanna will probably still tell her friends that “Tim fixes computers.”

Are you a DevOps Engineer currently considering your next career move?
Contact the Finite team  and we can help you find your next gig.

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