My last job taught me a lot. It allowed me wear a lot of different hats — I played the roles of product/project manager, pitched to prospective clients and closed deals, acted as a liaison between the design and development teams, and even chipped in and did some content writing every now and then.
I gained invaluable insight into how a business is run from different vantage points and took with me some key lessons in entrepreneurship. Perhaps more importantly, I interacted and worked with all kinds of people — designers, code junkies, marketing professionals and even CxOs. My personal and professional networks grew exponentially.
I would strongly recommend a sandbox-style role like this to anyone in the early stages of their careers.
There came, however, a point of diminishing returns (for both the company and myself).
I soon started to realize that my peers were constantly sharpening specific skills whereas I had plateaued. Being a generalist was cool but it was time to try and become a specialist.
So when a fantastic opportunity from 1st Main came knocking, I grabbed it with both hands.
It was a web developer position that allowed for full-time remote work and flexible hours.
(To list out the benefits of an arrangement like this would be outside the scope of this blog post but I’m planning on writing a follow up post that covers it sometime soon.)
Right off the bat, there was something very special about this new role:
Without the constant distraction of phone calls, meetings and emails, I suddenly had large, contiguous blocks of time to focus on the task at hand and was able to enter that elusive ‘flow state’ more often.
I was also creating things. Something tangible to show for after a day’s work. Something that didn’t previously exist. Going from zero to one.
I’m still interested in more than just development and will most likely try my hand at a bunch of different things to satisfy that entrepreneurial itch. But I feel like I bring most value to the company and have the most growth potential when I have one niche area to focus on.
Find your niche. It doesn’t preclude you from pursuing different interests. It just gives you a sense of overall direction. Be a ‘jack of all trades’ but a master of one.
So what’s next? We’re a small team at 1st Main but my peers are highly skilled and accomplished. I’m going to be a sponge — absorb as much as I can from them and hopefully put it all together to make my contribution to the team.
“We are greater than the sum of our parts.”