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Generalist or Specialist? What job title are you?

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Thursday, 19 November, 2009

Content When I started my career in digital media, I had already dealt with the combined moniker of designer / scripter. Having launched myself out of an Interactive Media Masters Degree with a bit of lingo scripting learnt, just after three years on a design degree and I'd started creating interactive design combining the two disciplines.

I decided I was a specialist in interactive design. Someone who could make graphic design interactable.

Very soon after, our small design company Kibook was founded, and though I was still very much an interactive designer, over the following years, my repertoire expanded to administration, accounts, project management, pr and the clich├ęd tea-making.

Though I enjoyed the mix of responsibilities, freedom, obligations and insights, I found myself beginning to think of myself as a generalist. I attempted to retain the specialist title for interactive design, but my time and experience in the other areas grew.

Naturally, as a director in a small company, much of the time spent was talking directly with clients. After a decade, I began to migrate back towards a specialist title but this time as a 'consultant' as I also struck out on my own to freelance in other companies.

At a large agency, I then found myself described as a generalist - someone to plan, design, script, manage, architect information and generate ideas. It then dawned on me that the best way to perhaps describe people like me is as both a specialist and a generalist.

I've found that most people who work in digital have come from one discipline or another - the obvious being graphic design or computer engineering - and then move on to gain experience in other areas.

In fact, I believe exposure to other areas enriches the specialism, as well as develop skills to perform digital-related tasks more effectively. I've found that having worked at all levels of a project in my own company, simply created an awareness of the whole process that proved essential when applying myself within a specialist capacity at another agency.

In the age of digital, general skills may in fact become obligatory with our experience anyway. And though a non-digital worker's experience and skill set grows regardless, the net is infinitely cast wider with digital.

Embrace the General Specialist in you!

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