By Nancy Momanyi,
Moringa School Staff.
The tech scene in Kenya has really grown over the past few years. The question that most young techies ask at the beginning of their careers is, “Do most employers prefer generalists or specialists?”.
You may already be well advanced in your career but are wondering whether you made the right choice to be a specialist or generalist. According to Merriam-Webstar dictionary, a specialist is defined as a person who has special knowledge and skill relating to a particular job, an area of study. A generalist, on the other hand, is someone who has special knowledge and skill relating to a particular job, an area of study.
According to Ariane Fisher, Managing Director at Shortlist your learning philosophy is what makes you most employable. It is important to be able to adapt to different situations in the workplace. A mistake most developers make at the beginning of their careers is focusing too much on the technology or the programming aspect of their roles and not the problem they are solving. It is nice to be a specialist in a particular domain but you should be able to be a problem solver and understand the market’s needs.
The more you learn things outside of your comfort zone, the easier it is for you to get new opportunities. These were the sentiments shared by Caine Wanjau, CTO at Twiga foods. This also makes you eligible for leadership roles within an organization. When you first join the tech space, you will be a specialist in your role but as you grow in your organization it is important for you to learn the business aspect of your organization. Having a broad view of where your organization is heading enables you to contribute effectively to the growth of an organization.
A generalist, with knowledge of a broad range of issues, can see deeper inside this interconnectedness and find solutions that a specialist might not be able to see. All the different departments within a business connect with each other. A generalist can help see this bigger picture and come up with ideas and solutions that benefit the business as a whole.
Finally, since generalists can have loosely defined roles and work in a number of different positions, their job security might suffer. Replacing a generalist with another generalist can be easier than finding another specialist for a position.
Perhaps the main benefit to a specialist career route is the ability to grow in a particular field and earn more money. Being a specialist in a role often takes longer and you have to have gained knowledge in a particular subject which makes you an asset to the company. This is the reason why specialists tend to make more money.
The organization often has a few specialists operating in different sectors, which means the whole of the organization could rely on their expertise. This not only provides higher chances for a better salary but can also provide the specialist more internal power. For example, you might be better placed to negotiate when it comes to implementing new management structures or other such issues.
According to Sam Kitonyi, Director of Engineering at Jumo World everyone needs to be a specialist in learning new skills. You should never be comfortable with the skills you have now because in a few years your role may be redundant.
To conclude, whether you are a generalist or a specialist if you work hard towards achieving your career goals, you can do so as a specialist and as a generalist.