Becoming a specialist in an area is a great way to become valuable in the job market. The fewer people that are able to do your job, the more valuable you are. However, as entrepreneur Stef Lewandowski points out, you don't necessarily have to pick a specialty as soon as possible.
Photo by Idaho National Laboratory.
Learning skills and gaining experience is more important than simply picking a specialty and staying within it. Even if you have an idea of what you would like to pursue, experimenting with other fields can show you what you might do well at. Lewandoski describes how he applied this idea to being an entrepreneur:
My approach, looking back at having been in that liminal putting-out-feelers state a few times now, is to let a thousand flowers bloom. In the past, rather than looking for a single opportunity to fully commit to, I've started off with several ideas with several people, with a huge variety in scale. I remember when I decided to move away from agency life, I had a proposal in the final stages for a £25m innovation lab, a handful of prototypes, a citizen journalism project that had users, and a diagram on a piece of paper for how you might make a TV and film workflow in a web browser.
The lab didn't happen, the prototypes were interesting but didn't grow, the citizen journalism project had no revenue, but that piece of paper, well, we raised some angel funds and it became my next focus.
Of course, we're not all going to be courting angel investment, but everyone can use the principle. There's intense pressure to choose a specialty and stick with it at all ages and points in your career, but it's never a bad thing to put out feelers for what happens next. Particularly if you're ready to move on to your next "life".