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Jack of all trades -- master of none

Ed gives advice to the 'Jack of all IT' -- master of none.

I have some experience in the IT industry but my situation makes me look like I'm a "Jack of all and master of none." I have no specialized skills yet I manage our IT infrastructure and handle new IT projects at my company.

I would like to know if you think I should look for managerial jobs or seek to specialize in a specific area of IT. Also I think the networking field doesn't pay as well as software development or consulting. Therefore, I'd also consider pursing courses in the SAP field or returning to college to earn an MS in computer science or a MBA in IT.

Where should I start?

First, you must pick a direction to pursue. You've raised numerous possibilities and expressed lots of different interests. Let me therefore observe that, of all the career enhancing moves a person can make, nothing makes as much difference as continued higher education. This suggests that if you're willing to take the time out and spend the money necessary to earn an MS in CS or an MBA in IT, that would be the right kind of path to follow. That said, only you can decide what really interests you the most and use that self-understanding to guide your next steps forward. My advice is to find a subject area that really engages your interests and enthusiasm: this will keep you going, and help you enjoy and pursue your professional life with vigor long after a bigger salary, more secure job prospects, and so forth, fade into tedium. If you are deeply interested in what you do, you can find a way to make it work for yourself, no matter what the economic or other external conditions might indicate.

Good luck with your career planning and development. Do feel free to post further follow-up comments and questions, and I'll be happy to respond.

This was last published in June 2006

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