When specifying user workstation settings, I’m given the option to specify a profile. What are profiles?

Profiles are created on the Profiles tab of the Options dialog box. Profiles can contain configuration settings for just about anything that is not a drawing based system variable. For example, a profile can contain things like support paths, grip settings, and plot settings.

When you specify a profile on the Specify User Preferences page during the deployment process, it ensures that all workstations that use that deployment to install the product will be configured the same way.