Argenis Fernandez (blog ! twitter) is hosting the latest T-SQL Tuesday and asking about specialization.

For the earlier part of my career I was doing application development while really wanting to do database work. I also learned plenty about systems administration while in college. The variety of the tasks made me a Jack of All Trades with a lean toward databases. I wanted to specialize as a DBA or DB developer, just the jobs were never there until I moved to a bigger market.

When I was able to specialize, I was happy I could focus on one thing and get really deep with it. Now I am able to get deep with SQL Server, but I find myself constantly recalling information I learned in my previous positions to help with current issues. CLR, PowerShell, and little custom written utilities all draw from my .NET experience, which I am grateful for. I run into other DBAs that have no clue what goes on outside of their world. Having multiple skills allows me to create better solutions as I don’t just consider what I’m responsible for, but all the connections to my piece as well.

Being a generalist early in my career has allowed me better understanding of the whole stack of any given solution. It is easier for me to spot an integration problem or see a problem with an application’s implementation than it would have been without that variety of experience. Jack of All Trades tend to be better at seeing the big picture as they don’t focus on just one area. They can be the ones that help everything fit together better. Specialists are an important part of our ecosystem, but without someone to put the pieces together, you would have perfect components in a flawed system. Solutions really are greater than the sum of their parts.