tirsdag 12. mars 2013

Generalist or specialist?

I’ve heard that big companies hire people who are specialists and that small companies prefer to hire people who tend more towards being generalists, because they need people who are adaptable and can take on more than one job. Sooo what should you be?

Maybe the answer is "both."

Valve’s handbook for new employees has been floating around the intertubes. I read it because I was curious and am super smitten with Valve. It’s a very interesting read on how Valve functions, as Valve has no apparent structure or binding roles people conform to. People apparently just sort of… do what they want, and it works because the people who work are amazing or something.

Apart from that, it also has segment about what kind of people Valve hires (”part 5: Valve is growing”).

When Valve hires, they look for a person who is “T-shaped.” This is not a skinny person with broad shoulders as I, er, first thought, but a person who has a broad range of skills combined with a deep expertise in one area.
Their reasoning is that a person with a too narrow skillset can be difficult to collaborate with because they have little understanding of the other fields, and a person who has general knowledge of many things but no deep expertise might end up not contributing much of value.

I want to aim to be T-shaped because then I’ll be employable both as a specialist and a generalist, and I want to be a part of many things. Trough this course I have learned a lot of general skills that I can keep building on, but I don’t really know what I want to specialise in. I think in the very first post I wrote in this blog, back when I started this course, I wrote that I wanted to be a concept artist. I’m not sure I stand by that any more. Maybe I do. I guess it would be cool, but I really like doing character art. I also find myself enjoying environment stuff more and more. I don’t know that much about level design but what little I’ve learned I think is very interesting and I would love to learn more about that. I don’t even know if I want to specialise in 2D or 3D. Maybe that’s okay, if I just keep working on stuff I enjoy, I’ll become good at that and maybe a deep speciality will show itself in time. I don’t even know if I want to work with games or if I want to draw comics.

I understand I can't be everything but I am scared that if I start specialising this early, I will loose out on opportunities to learn other new things.

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