Years ago, while I was in the Marines, I had a bit of a mentor who taught me quite a few things – not only about my duties as a communicator, but also interesting little factoids, and theorems of his. One of those I took to heart, and refer to quite often. He surmised that there were three types of ways to earn an income, a job, a career, and a profession. Allow me to clarify:
A job is simply something you do to bring in some cash. Whether you’re mowing lawns, flipping burgers, or fixing computers – it’s not necessarily your dream, but it pays the bills.
A career is something that you invest time into. It becomes a part of your identity. Over time your skills improve and you can continue to move up the ladder.
A profession is the next step up from a career. A professional is one who not only invests his time at work, but they take their personal time to learn their trade – not just the tricks of the trade, but the whole darn thing. Professional burger flippers become master chefs, professional lawn mowers become expert landscapers, and professional computer fixers become SoftLayer Technicians! Many of the technicians here host their own websites, utilize their own time and resources to learn more about their trade, or they tweak, hack, and play with computers as a hobby. Being a professional is an integral part of your identity. Professionals take pride in their trade, and often identify themselves by this trade (ie, “I’m an IT Professional”, or “I’m a Chef at a five star restaurant).
I would like to consider myself a professional. I spend countless hours of my free time in pursuit of a college degree and enjoy learning new things about various operating systems, and always like to help others who are less intuitive with computers out as well. While I’m by no means the “super-tech”, I certainly strive to do so, much like those who surround me every day here in the NOC.