What doesn’t the public understand or appreciate about your job? The Atlantic asked their readers and were provided with some fascinating answers from a broad range of occupations. For example, in “A is for Army soldier”:
The thing that surprises people is that some of the most free-thinking people in the United States are in the US Army. The problems that we have to contend with require innovative solutions and given the breadth of educational backgrounds of Army Officers, you find some incredibly adaptive people. Deployments and combat result in an environment where evolution is sped up by a million and those that cannot adapt fail. As long as basic forms are obeyed, you find that most leaders actively encourage free thinking within their ranks. To be sure, we have our share of intellectual dullards and buffoons but the reality is that the more time you spend with Soldiers, the more you begin to realize how vibrant, adaptive and broad they are in their thoughts.
Since I left the military I’ve had jobs in politics, policy, and journalism. But none of them have encouraged the same level of creative thinking that was expected in the Marines. In fact, if you are interested in expressing yourself creatively, you might want to consider the joining the Corps rather than seeking a job as a graphic designer:
Thanks to Mad Men and the countless ads on TV for schools that “allow you to express your creativity to its fullest potential,” the thought is that every design job is a sexy glamorous job. Once you’re through with school, you’ll land a job at Leo Burnett, BBDO, Nike, Apple, or another company that has a pool table, sexy promiscuous secretaries, very entertaining socio-political drama, or something your parents and friends would recognize on the shelf.
The reality of it is the vast majority of designers will work to make ugly things for strategically incompetent people only to have more people still think very little of you.
I’ve known a lot of graphic designer and they have all had to put up with daily frustrations from clients. The lack of appreciation for what they do is sort of like being an IRS employee:
What people don’t understand about my job is that chances are you are not the person I’m examining. I examine doctors who expense three Cadillacs, insurance brokers who claim jet skis for business use only, and real estate agents who haven’t paid taxes in eight years. The public doesn’t realize that tax auditors are the only people between a balanced effective tax rate among all social classes and the bourgeoisie stealing what isn’t bolted down. Don’t kid yourself; these people are stealing from you. This money helps pay for schools, roads and with any luck can keep mortgage interest deduction alive for a few more years. I read a report on NPR that Italy has 40% of its population evading taxes. Imagine our debt crisis if we had the same problem. (Our tax evasion rate is estimated between 8-18%).
So if you’re one of those “Joe the Plumber” people who take time out of work to throw teabags at me on my way into the office in the morning: You are the middle class! I’m helping you!