I don't know if this question may be confusing to some of you; so I will try to explain myself as well as I can.

I have been interested in informatics and technology all my life. When I was young I started learning how to code. I spent time tinkering around developing little projects involving servers and OSs. Eventually, and unsuprisingly I started to study coding and went on to get a degree with a solid grade.

Now I find myself in my 20s in the first development related work experience I've ever had. I got this job quite soon after finishing my studies. I'm currently developing for a website development company.

The problem is that I keep getting the same annoying questions from coworkers, bosses, friends and/or people I get to know:

"Do you like your job?"

"How is it working on something you really like?"

or the most annoying:

"How is it getting paid for something you would do for free?".

The reason I find those questions so annoying are that people seem utterly confused, and some cases even annoyed when I tell them that I don't enjoy it THAT much, that it's only a job for me.

I still love learning new stuff and tinkering on my own technologies and stuff that I'm interested in, but my job (in general) doesn't excite me THAT much. So I have been feeling a uncomfortable when being presented with these kinds of questions.

Since apparently you HAVE to love your work when working in the IT/Development industry. However I don't think that me not "loving" my job is causing any trouble with my performance or the quality of my work. This is because that as a job, I take it very seriously and I put in the required effort. However clearly it doesn't seem to be enough for most people; they all seem to be pressuring me to conform to something that I don't agree with. I'm fairly certain that this same kind of behaviour is directed at people in other industries. Like for example cashiers, construction workers or regular administrative workers. Each of which ar eall equally valid jobs.

So how should I reply to those sorts of questions? How do I tell the people that to me, my job is just that, a job?

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    If my boss asked me "How is it getting paid for something you would do for free?", it would ring alarm bells in my head. It transports a certain self-satisfaction on their part and an expectation that I don't need much compensation. Personally, I'd feel secure enough in my job prospects to jokingly ask back "Oh, should I expect to work for free soon?" or somesuch. Nov 8, 2017 at 13:20

8 Answers 8


One approach would be to relate it to something that the person knows about.

For instance, you could say something like:

Web development is a lot like building a house, fixing a car, or cleaning an apartment.

You get a certain satisfaction from completing those jobs and doing those jobs really well, but it's a lot more fun when you're building your own house, fixing your own car, or cleaning your own apartment than doing the same for others.


Tell them that while you realise you are fortunate to have a job that somewhat aligns with some of your personal interests it's still a job, not a vocation and you do it because you have bills to pay.

If they keep pressing you for more detail you can explain that if you had no need for the income you'd still probably be coding etc but you'd be doing it as and when you felt like it and only on "projects" that piqued your interest. And you probably wouldn't be doing it 8 hours a day, five days a week!

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    I like this. I'd shorten the answer to: "it pays the bills". If they look like they weren't expecting that one, then give them the long answer. Oct 28, 2017 at 15:48

How you answer these questions depends on who is asking and what is the correct answer they want to hear.

Bosses: They want to know if you are unhappy enough to leave. Therefore if there are things they can fix tell them; but since the bigger picture view you have is not the answer they want to hear, don't tell them that it is just a job.

Coworkers: They may report your attitude to management; but maybe they won't. So how you answer should mimic what they do. Everybody has complaints so some unhappiness is expected. But telling all your co-workers the job is just a job, may get back to management.

Family: answer any way you want. They are probably not going to tell your boss. Though if you are too negative they may get concerned.

People you get to know: If is is small talk then sarcastic answers can work, unless you met these people through work.

Think of it this way. Imagine that you just found the perfect job, but you can't start for 90 days while they do a background investigation, so it isn't 100% guaranteed . Your current job is going to decide on layoffs soon. Your mission is to answer bosses and workers questions in a way to preserve the job you have. You wouldn't tell management: i don't care about this job, you would not want to give them an excuse to let you go.


My response is usually something along the lines of "It's still a job. There are good days and bad days, just like any other job. I like it, but I still wouldn't do it for free. I'm sure it's not that different from your own job in that respect, otherwise why are you still doing it?"

This tends to hit the right notes in most people. People who are working a job they enjoy will realise that we're exactly the same. I've had a rare occurrence where someone actually responded with "You know what, you're right. I don't enjoy my job at all...I'll have to think on this..." and eventually did end up changing jobs.


Is that really what you want to tell people?

“It’s just a job” is what you say if you just go to work for the money. That’s not the case. You are there to learn, to gain experience. Even if the end result is not exciting, the work is also self improvement for you.

So when asked, tell them what you like about your job. It goes down a lot better.

About the “work for free”: reply “what makes you think I would do this work for free”?

People ask because they care. If it annoys you, don’t tell them. They might stop caring.


So what should be my answer to that question? How do I tell the people that my job is only a job for me?

It's simple.

You say "It's okay. My job is only a job to me." or something along those lines. And then you stop being annoyed by the reactions of others. Eventually those around you will stop asking.

You can't change how others feel. But you can change how you react to it.


The first one I want to address is how these questions seem annoying. There is an evident degree of knowledge, concerning the subject, that you may have that many people haven’t applied themselves to, even early in your career specialized education signifies expertise in an area. This divide creates a natural conception of ignorance the informed party inherently imposed on the other. You should take pride and adapt to the fact that with this specified knowledge you gain insight that most are blind to.

Noting that “It’s only a job” is a very vague concept and your answer may vary with the target.

While generally it’s not the best idea to inform your superiors with this, as this may be processed as a lack of commitment, or ambition within this field. The best way of doing so would be to inform them on the reason you’re in that position. Maybe good pay, maybe you thought the field would be more glamorous, maybe you strive for something that occurs further into the field, nonetheless giving them insight may show that this, being a path to your goal, is an integral part of your life and why you are an asset to the company.

Yet, while you are young you can express your uncertainty on the subject, as most people question their position and general being, but your answer should be what ever gets you the result you want. I don’t mean this as using improper means for selfish motives, but if the right answer produces a negative outcome, for something personal, I would answer less objectively. Vague answers are have strong implied meaning underlying the dubious shroud, so I would avoid those, but generally this would occur as small-talk. People may not be looking to examine your career, but just establish connections to break the monotony and anxiousness that time pressures with.


You can utilize the word "like", which means you're generally OK with it and somewhat happy. But not really looking forward to it as the source of inspiration.

Say "I like my job, it is quite related to what I've learned at college". Keep the words positive, but brief. Other people don't need to know about your innermost feelings, unless of course, you want them to know it.

As other answerers have cautioned, either innocuously or deliberately, these people may spread the information about your beliefs and you might be perceived as a lesser fit.

Remember there are multiple people vying for any given job, who'll successfully fake enthusiasm and interest to get through.

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