Specialization or Jack of all trades

Which is better? Be the master in one domain/technology or knowing bit of everything and not knowing anything completely. Latter is what is happening to me.

I got trained in maninframe technologies (MVS, Cobol, DB2, IDMS), worked in a mainframe project for some time - switched to a web development project (Java, Servlets, HTML, Oracle), coded less than 20 programs, maintained/enhanced some others – by this time moved into module management and slowly started losing touch with technology, but still survived because of the interest and did some more work in JSP, Java etc.

Now, I am back in pure module management and looks like I have already lost my so called “technical acumen”. I used to be rated well on technical knowledge and used to get some respect from colleagues (that is the true accomplishment – to be recognized by peers). But now I started struggling – can’t clearly explain how to use scrollable resultset, adding objects in session etc.

Just overheard this comment about somebody else: “he babbled about we can do it with EJB this way, that way etc, but when asked about specifics, he said search in google”. I might soon end up like this.

I came into this industry purely by chance. This was what is “happening” at that time. I got engineering in Electronics and Communication, but now when somebody talk about IC, Integrator etc, I see very vague pictures. Sometimes I try to console myself thinking that those 4 years of engineering was helpful in developing some overall engineering concepts and structured thinking which I can use in this industry too. It is like trying to get some exchange value for something precious which I don’t know how to use.

One of my seniors, whom I respect, once wrote an article “We are afraid to call ourselves masters”. I kept that article in my desktop for a long time.

So now I am seriously thinking about whether this is how I want to continue. Should I give myself another chance to say that “I just went along with it” after 5 years. My best years are passing by, what do I want to do?

I will continue some more rambling on this subject for couple of more days.


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