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A job is a regular activity performed in exchange for payment. A person usually begins a job by becoming an employee, volunteering, or starting a business. The duration of a job may range from an hour (in the case of odd jobs) to a lifetime (in the case of some judges). If a person is trained for a certain type of job, they may have a profession. The series of jobs a person holds in their life is their career.
Jobs for people
Moonlighting is the practice of holding an additional job or jobs, often at night, in addition to one's main job, usually to earn extra income. A person who moonlights may have little time left for sleep or leisure activities.
The expression day job is often used for a job one works in to make ends meet while performing low-paying (or non-paying) work in their preferred vocation. Archetypical examples of this are the woman who works as a waitress (her day job) while she tries to become an actress, and the professional athlete who works as a laborer in the off season because he is currently only able to make the roster of a semi-professional team.
While many people do hold a full-time occupation, "day job" specifically refers to those who hold the position solely to pay living expenses so they can pursue, through low paying entry work, the job they really want (which may also be during the day). The phrase strongly implies that the day job would be quit, if only the real vocation paid a living wage.
The phrase "don't quit your day job" is a humorous response to a poor or mediocre performance not up to professional caliber. The phrase implies that the performer is not talented enough in that activity to be able to make a career out of it.
Getting a job
Getting a first job is an important rite of passage in many cultures. Youth may start by doing household work, odd jobs, or working for a family business. In many countries, school children get summer jobs during the longer summer vacation. Students enrolled in higher education can apply for internships.
Use of the word
Labourers often talk of "getting a job", or "having a job". This conceptual metaphor of a "job" as a possession has led to its use in slogans such as "money for jobs, not bombs". Similar conceptions are that of "land" as a possession (real estate) or intellectual rights as a possession (intellectual property).
The Online Etymology Dictionary explains that the origin of "job" is from the obsolete phrase "jobbe of work" in the sense of "piece of work", and most dictionaries list the Middle English "gobbe" meaning "lump" (gob) as the origin of "jobbe". Attempts to link the word to the biblical character Job seem to be folk etymology.
- The dictionary definition of job at Wiktionary