Long reads

Is being a tech generalist the key to career longevity?

Aoibhinn Mc Bride

Aoibhinn Mc Bride

Content Editor, Jobbio

From AI to cybersecurity, you might be operating under the assumption that in order to excel in tech you need to focus your career efforts in one specific area, particularly in your formative years.

But according to Eddy Barker, an engineer at U.S. telecommunications company AT&T, specialising too early in one specific area can limit your technical breadth and networking opportunities.

Additionally, a narrow focus might restrict your ability to innovate and solve problems across different domains.

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"Having a wide skillset, on the other hand, can give you more career flexibility and job security, especially if technology shifts or new opportunities arise in other areas of the business. If you’re passionate about cybersecurity, having skills in programming, application development, and network can enhance your value to your company,” Barker explains.

“By diversifying your expertise, you create more opportunities for career advancement and adaptability. AT&T, for instance, encourages employees to explore various roles and projects to broaden their skillsets and enhance their career prospects.”

This also includes upskilling and continuous learning and development. Barker says that honing your soft skills should be top of the agenda, whatever stage you’re at in your career, something the World Economic Forum has also advised in its most recent Future of Jobs report.

“Soft skills have never been more important. Effective communication, collaboration, empathy, and adaptability are becoming table stakes for career success. Soft skills such as creativity, organisation, respect, and a strong work ethic are essential for building strong working relationships and learning from more experienced colleagues.

“These interpersonal skills, combined with ongoing technical development, will help new employees meet and exceed expectations, leading to career success.”

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New technologies shouldn’t be overlooked

Additionally, the adoption of new technologies and tools, such as AI, shouldn’t be overlooked, particularly for workers who are concerned that they will be replaced by AI and its ability to automate everyday tasks.

“AI has the potential to transform many aspects of the workforce, creating both challenges and opportunities. For entry-level workers, AI tools can significantly enhance productivity by automating routine tasks and allowing a greater focus on complex problem-solving and creative work.

“AI can make programming more efficient, for instance, by reducing the emphasis on technical syntax and increasing focus on outcomes. Technologies like AI-enhanced digital twins can boost productivity and technical depth in ways previously unattainable. As AI continues to evolve, new opportunities will emerge that allow employees to develop new skills and become more efficient in their work,” Barker says.

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