Writing for Business

Jun 17 2014   2:51PM GMT

Vocabulary: Does protean mean beginning, changeable or heroic?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore


What does this sentence mean?

interrobang To satisfy the WebOps job description, an applicant must have a protean career history.  

a. The applicant would need to be just starting out.

b. The applicant would need experience in many different jobs.

c. The applicant would need to have demonstrated heroic efforts.

Answer: b. 


Protean is an adjective that means adaptable, versatile or capable of taking many forms. WebOps are typically required to qualify for several different types of jobs. Here’s one job description:

They have a deep understanding of networks, routing, switching, firewalls, load-balancinghigh availability, disaster recovery, TCP and UDP services, NOC management, hardware specifications, several different flavors of UNIX, several web server technologies, caching technologies, several databases, storage infrastructure,cryptographyalgorithms, trending and capacity planning.

The word protean derives from the name of the Greek god Proteus, who transformed himself to evade capture. (Proteus is also sometimes known as the god of elusive sea change.)

Because the modern career tends to involve several job changes and a fair amount of shape-shifting to satisfy requirements, the protean career path is becoming the norm.

See also: Proteus effect 

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