On Being a "Generalist"

25 Jun

I heard something today that really stuck with me. It was somewhere along the lines of  “Start as a generalist, specialize later” – I apologize for not remembering the exact quote, if you’re reading, I think you know who you are.

But I found this comment very interesting for a number reasons:
1) When it comes to communications, I’m not sure I’d want it any other way. Part of what I love about my Masters program right now is that it covers everything generally, then I can pick my area of specialization. I love that we discuss all different theories and we’re expected to know a little about all of them, but we have the opportunity to really explore those the resonate most with us.  
2) When it comes to PR, I think it’s particularly true of the industry – from what I’ve read at least. It seems that many students/young professionals in the field really do wear many different hats, but if they didn’t, how would they know what really lights their fire? Doing everything from media monitoring to podcasts to media relations and beyond certainly sounds like fun to me and from what I’ve read on other now young PR professionals blogs, (Congrats Class’ of ’08) it seems I’m not alone in that feeling. 
3) I would also say this is true of life. I’ve mentioned recently that ever since I started university, I’ve always been interested in ‘adding to my resume’. I’m not sure if I was entirely accurate in that statement. What I really meant was that I’ve focused on adding to my life experiences. From student leadership positions, to internships, to summer jobs and now the beginning of my career, I’ve always looked for new experiences and I think that’s really important when thinking in ‘generalist’ terms. 
(This image came up when I searched “generalist” in Flickr – not really sure how it relates, but it’s pretty 😉

One Response to “On Being a "Generalist"”

  1. Femi July 5, 2008 at 4:43 am #

    I think that it is better to be a specialist than a generalist in the PR world. You should go to your strengths, find your niche in the PR world, as I believe you will be more valuable if you do. I received the same such advice from a chief of communications at a sport association I am volunteering at. Being a specialist can give you more options than some may think.

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