I’m lucky to be in a position where I am not forced to specialize on a single technology. I have always made a habit of keeping up with the job market, and it seems the trend is that the bigger the company you wind up at, the more likely you are to be staring at the same thing day in and day out.
There are people even less specialized than me - my buddy is a one-man IT shop. He’s in an environment that could probably use just about one more IT guy. He’s probably wishing for the luxury of slightly more specialization that might be afforded to him if there was someone else around to help out.
There are people more specialized than me, too. A family member of mine is just about the hardest of hard core WebSphere admins. Oh, he’s a UNIX admin, but he got a job at $HUGECORP and I get the impression that he hasn’t seen so much as a zone file ever since. It’s this level of specialization I’m fighting.
Last week, I spent the week doing database development (culminating in a bit of SQL goodness you can read about on my blog) This week, I’m replacing an aging print (CUPS/Samba) server with a virtual machine. After that, I’m afraid I have a little PHP code to write for Moodle, and then I’m back into the back end on a data warehousing project. Before February started, I was upgrading (read: PXE kickstarting) a 30-node teaching lab, helping debug some weird issues on a beowulf cluster, and retiring the first beowulf cluster I ever deployed.
Over this coming summer, I hope to migrate more services from our old NIS service to our new LDAP service, which I deployed using Fedora Directory Server about two months after it was released to the world. I’ve blogged here that I was happy about that. I still am :-)
…And I’m still a little bitter that I rarely get to touch our networking gear.
Oh yeah, one other way I’ve been able to fight off specialization is by consulting. I have clients that need things set up that I have no use for or have outgrown in my day-job environment. This experience has even provided a couple of useful experiences that I brought back with me to my day job, and certainly keeps me grounded in the realities of how other organizations go about making technology decisions, and how those decisions affect the business side of things.
What about you? Are you able to fight specialization in your work? Have you suffered or been saved by specializing/not specializing? Have you turned down bigger paychecks to avoid specialization? Are you sorry you did/didn’t take a highly specialized job? I’m interested in your views on this! Share! :-)