I love the inclusiveness of the question "what do you do?" It doesn't alienate students and at-home parents. You can answer with information about the hobby that eats your weekends. But ultimately, people want to know what you do for work.
I sometimes fall into the lazy habit of answering with "I'm a Marketing Consultant". I should know better. Most folks, if they give a rip, will ask me what that means and I explain "I help companies connect with people online. I help them understand their brand and develop messaging strategies."
But even this answer feels a little boring to me. When I think about how much communication related to business happens online and the huge opportunity for companies to make the most of that dynamic, I get excited. When I think about the times I have conducted a brand study and explained to a company why their clients/customers or job candidates care about them, light bulbs go on. And I get excited.
So when people ask me what I do, I really want to be telling them about what gets me excited to work every day.
Here are some ideas on how to answer the "what do you do?" question. But I think my favorite resources is Simon Sinek. Have I not mentioned the big crush I have on his brain? Yeah, me and about 20 million other people.
His TED Talk is about leaders inspiring action, but I like his framework for explaining why anyone does what they do. You have to figure out your "WHY".
When people ask what you do, they want more than your title; they want to know why it matters. And what drives you to do what you do.