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A Jack-of-all-trades can be a Master of Some!
Ever since we were kids, we were encouraged to learn a bit from every area from history to art, from science to maths. It’s like a brand new world that we explore for nine school years but, when the time comes to choose, we are faced with a myriad of possibilities regarding the many disparate fields and professions we could have.
Some of us know what they want to do exactly and focus every inch of their being to perfecting their trade. But others are either too overwhelmed with those possibilities that they don’t know quite well what to do or love so much to learn a bit of every field and end up becoming a Jack-of-all-trades.
I have always been one of those Jack-of-all-trades, especially those who love to discover everything from design to art. I have a tremendous passion for music, animation, literature, illustration, design, digital media, and I’m also intrigued about informatics and how things work in that particular field – there was even a time I dreamed of being an inventor, but who doesn’t!
But when the time comes, what happens when you end up loving a bit of everything? How do you decide what field or profession you want to be in the future?
I know it might seem overwhelming and confusing to choose. But let’s take small steps one at time.
Let’s start with baby steps!
Be it that you are just seeking the perfect university to follow/start your studies or actually finish it and are having trouble preparing to enroll in your dream job… I have got an excellent recipe that will help you find back your focus!
Step 1 – Find those special things you want to learn so much!
The best way to uncover your ideal field is by searching for those things you like or would love to explore. Browse through the multiple university courses and job sites for their curriculum or job descriptions to see which profession or area of interest suits you better
After you keep track of the universities or jobs that have your areas of interest, talk with people who went in those courses or work in those fields and ask them what they felt when they were studying/working there or how the trade works.
Step 2 – Where can I learn those unique things?
My first reaction to this point was to see the universities’ curriculum with all the areas I wanted so much to learn. And Communication Design at Faculdade de Belas-Artes (Lisbon) had it all! Moreover, the coolest thing was that you could choose some subjects from other degrees in the faculty.
This helped me understand how to practice my favorite things, learn to work with others, and think conceptually how a project could be.
Regardless, there are other ways to learn more about your areas of interest besides enrolling in a school.
I present to you the world of online courses! The perfect weapon to learn specific things super fast and how they can be used in your work since they have an intense focus on practical exercises and not so much on theory. I, for once, am always keeping track of courses on sites like Domestika, Udemy and Skillshare and I am also creating thousands of Youtube playlists to save interesting videos about the subjects I like.
Also books. Never forget about books! Best way to get references and understand how things work (mainly those step by step or art books *insert evil laugh here*)
Step 3 – Time to focus: attention step by step!
I tackled many things to focus my attention on a specific field inside my areas of interest.
Firstly, I tried to read books about different areas and how they could be used in various jobs and to participate in conferences and speak with people about how it is to work in their fields. Secondly, I even asked if it was useful to invest time in learning a bit of everything. Most of them say that depends. Usually, jobs like art directors benefit from this multidisciplinary attitude because they can understand what needs or doesn’t need to be done and lend a helping hand. But many companies are looking for someone that is a specialist in doing something. So when looking at a job offer, see what the skills required to enter it are, what is expected of you, and train for it.
As far as I’ve seen, the best way to train is by dedicating a month to do exercises about a specific field as Ben Mariott suggests here.
With this method, we, Jack-of-all-trades, can sharpen our skills and start becoming more of a Master of Something (rather than a master on none)
What about other fields besides art?
Even though the method described before is spoken through an art/design lens, I believe that the recipe works for other areas as well.
You see, you are the ultimate weapon for small companies as you aid them in the early stages of a project with your knowledge. You know so much of all the areas that you can understand better what works and what doesn’t in the project, how those same areas can interact with each other, and give a helping hand to team members that might need it. Your golden skill is being proactive and curious enough to “figure your shit out” and gradually become a master of “something” as you support your peers and help check up things with them.
Then again, there are some areas where it is required to become a “master” of it. For instance, if an engineer doesn’t master the theory and practice of building a home with the correct structure, it will fall, and all the work just crumbles down.
But note that it is ok to retain a generalistic knowledge of something related to your area. Think of a doctor: if he doesn’t know how the body functions or reacts to some substance, they run the risk of giving the wrong treatment and jeopardize the person’s health.
With this in mind, I think that professions of risk or where there is an eerie heavy feeling of responsibility benefit from having a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree to properly prepare you for the responsibility that awaits you.
All in all, we might be Jack-off-all-trades, a Master of None. But it’s better to know a bit of everything and start searching for our focus, becoming a Master of Some, than knowing nothing at all. The best way to find this focus is by dedicating each month to learning something specific about your field of interest.