Young people, just starting out in their careers, might be wondering if they should be a specialist in an area of their industry, or if they should just generalize in what they do?
Here’s what Stan Christensen, Stanford instructor and a partner at Arbor Advisors, had to say on the topic:
Choosing the right career can be a very difficult decision to have to make. We often end up in the wrong jobs because we make some incorrect assumptions.
First, forget trying to fill up your resume with stuff that doesn’t matter to you because you feel it is what your potential employer is looking for. You can’t read minds, and chasing what you’re passionate about is the real deal.
When you interview for a job, what they really want to know is your story, why you did what you did.
Next, don’t fall into the trap of grinding away at a job you hate, thinking it’s your ticket to the next level. Pick something fun! Enjoyment breeds success, and you don’t want your work life to feel like a never-ending toothache.
And don’t worry about choosing a career you’re going to want to do for the rest of your life. Most people bounce around between different careers these days. Careers aren’t lifelong commitments anymore. The workforce world has evolved, and you have time to explore.
Speaking of which, specialization isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Being a generalist can be way more fun and useful. Specializing too much might turn you into a one-trick pony, and nobody wants to be that guy.
Before Microsoft Excel there was Lotus 1-2-3, and it was huge. Well, now it’s a relic.
Specialization can lead you down a dead-end street, and you don’t wanna be left behind when the world moves on.
So, what’s the bottom line? Forget those silly assumptions about what others want or what you think you should do. Find your passion, have some fun, and don’t stress about your career being set in stone.
Being a generalist can open doors you didn’t even know existed. Just do your best and go with the flow, and eventually you’ll end up in a job and career that you’ll love.