Generalising specialist or specialising generalist, which are you?

The new age of authentic work, and how it offers you the freedom not to have to choose.

Alena Turley
4 min readOct 21, 2017

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Gone are the days when you were expected to at least appear to have a ‘nuclear family’ — one or more kids, a husband and wife, a steady job for life. In the modern age of fluidity everything is up for grabs; your gender, your occupation, your sexual orientation.

Well, thank goodness for that, right?

If you’ve watched Mad Men or spent anytime researching the culture of the great American dream, then you would know how incredibly restrictive it was for many. Out of that context emerged the complete opposite — the sexual revolution, LSD, 1970s folk music and the highest divorce rates on record in the western world.

What also came out of it was a new breed commonly known as the Baby Boomer, now in their 60s and 70s and living in a world with completely different rules. There’s the internet for one, and their children, Generation X.

Gen X may have done ‘the right thing’ as some squeezed out the last juice of free tertiary education to nourish their dream careers, but very few would still be doing the job they trained to. And even less, are expecting to have one or even two jobs for the entirety of their working life.

I was one of those who deferred payment for university, and took it as a given that if I did well academically at a tertiary level that I would find gainful employment. Not so. I remember having a minor breakdown at exam time in second year — my first relationship ended, I was falling in love with someone else, and was freaking out about psychology statistics.

With an appointment to see the on-campus counsellor, receptive as ever to any advice that might come my way, in the waiting room was an article about how in the future (like, now), there would be specialising generalists and generalising specialists. I never forgot it. No idea what the counsellor said or did, but I remember that article.

Turns out, it was completely accurate. This idea has also saved me from feeling like a complete failure for not having specialised in just one thing.

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Alena Turley

Copywriter + content creator + educator. Gives good word at alenaturley.com & soulmammablog.com