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Specialization vs Generalization
AUGUST 9, 2008 ·
I’ve been pondering about specialization vs. generalization in terms of career skills.
I have this notion that I should be a maven, should be an expert at something. But yet, I mostly do things that are the very opposite of this idea.
Since I don’t tend to be a specialist, I tend to not focus on a particular topic. I want to learn about different things and hence I tend to meet people of varied interests, and consequently end up being excited about a lot of different ideas. For example, one of my good friends is someone who I happened to meet on a bus because my seat was next to his, and we talked non-stop for 5 hours from the moment we said ‘Hello’. I was able to connect with him well because I knew a bit about his profession and we had some common terminology right at the beginning of the conversation. And I really love having such conversations. It’s one of the things that really motivate me and it ends up throwing me in different directions.
Maybe it’s not really a generalization vs. specialization debate, and more of an attitude. Then again, I see that people tend to really pigeonhole themselves, such as “I’m looking for C++ jobs” or “I want only bluetooth jobs”. Why? Because they’ll get experience in a particular technology and employers will give higher pay packages to specialists. This means these people focus only on things related to that one particular area and ignore everything else. Somehow I’ve been unable to do this, even though I want to.