Posted on November 3, 2010
I was recently informed that “when someone talks about specialities, I worry. People should be open to all technologies”. Something along those lines anyway! I was a bit taken a back by this as the reason for it being brought up was a previous rant on my blog about PHP Developers/Programmers having to be experts in frontend web development also. But, I’m not so sure that this should be exempt from personal interpretation and opinion… Should you specialise? When should you specialise? What does it mean to specialise? What is the correct way to specialise in a of a few certain aspects of your skillset? Are specialities different from expertise?Well this conversation actually then descended into the definition of specialities and expertise. Let’s look at their definitions:
special skill, knowledge, or judgment; expertness
a special subject of study, line of work, area of interest, or the like:
I immediately notice both of those definitions (from dictionary.com by the way) using the adjective: “special”. So that’s the difference shown…….
Obviously, I realise that work can’t be all what you want! But I think having special areas of interest/expertise/specialities is a good thing. I’ve worked in places where people lack focus on the areas they wish to develop and flit from one to another very quickly. This in my view creates a jack of all trades who never really has a deep understanding of anything.
People may disagree with me, but I think after a few years this is the case for anyone who is going to become a master in their field. There is nothing to stop people adding to their list of interests and they should, but it’s wrong I think to be concerned when people have them.
I think and herein lies the problem that I’ve touched on before, technology companies will demand a great deal from you, but only a handful will allow you to develop your interests and expertise to truly master them. Personally I think it’s ok to have “specialities” as these are usually a few skills from a vast list that you maintain that you’re super really good at, and there’s no shame in that.