Should I Specialize or Generalize?
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Q3: Should I Specialize or Generalize in ICT4D?
Another subscriber question: Will my career advance faster if I stay an ICT4D generalist, with different jobs that focus in each of education, health, and agriculture, or should I specialize in one sector for the majority of my career?
The Case for Generalists Skills
Spreading yourself over several sectors has two key advantages. First, you will not be bored, as each sector, while similar to the others, has its own opportunities, issues, and players.
The downside to this strategy is that it might take you longer to advance into a management role when you move from one sector to another, and have to learn its new norms and networks.
Personally, this is the role I've taken, as I thrive on the steep learning curve that comes with a new field. However, I've seen peers who stayed with one sector (though not always with the same company) move up faster than me.
The Case for Specialists Skills
If you decide to focus on one sector, say civil society, you can certainly become a key expert and make good progress in your career. If its something you love, by all means, go deep and enjoy.
However, you can become typecast - forever expected to only be in that sector. Then, the longer you stay in that sector, the harder it will be for you to work in any other. This can be very dangerous if that role phases out of need.
For example, at one point I was an expert in deploying desktop computers into computer labs. Yet that isn't a role for international experts anymore, so I had to quickly adapt or I would've been unemployed and unemployable.
T-Shaped Skills for Sustainability
Many career counselors talk about T-shaped skills as the best of both worlds. Go vertically deep in a particular area and then be quick to horizontally collaborate with experts in other disciplines.
The benefit of this approach is a domain knowledge that can advance your career and a network of peers in other domains that will vouch for you if you need to move out of your subject area in the future.
This is what I recommend now too. For example: being a subject matter expert in democracy and governance, yet quick to share your social and behavior change communication skills with peers in health and nutrition. I think its the only way to ensure a life-long career in digital development.
Want a quick and free primer on the digital development career path? Then watch my ICT4Djobs webinar with Devex where I covered the essential skills you need for a successful ICT4D career.
This Week's ICT4D Jobs Listings
- CAMRIS an international development and research firm is in search of a Senior Data Scientist
- VIAMO is currently looking to fill the position of DFID Partnerships Manager based in London, UK.
- The Department for International Development (DFID) is in search of a Deputy Director, Emerging Policy Innovation and Capability (EPIC)
- Chemonics seeks a Monitoring, Evaluating, and Learning Technology Director for our Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) department within its Project Development and Support Division.
- One Acre Fund (OAF) is looking to recruit for numerous job positions based in Kigali, Rwanda and Nairobi, Kenya. The positions are; SQL Server Database Administrator, Software Engineer, Software Quality Assurance Engineer, Business Intelligence Analyst and SAP SuccessFactors Engineer
- Tech Care for All (TC4A), is looking for a Digital Marketing Manager based in Paris.
- Jhpiego is looking to hire a Sr. Technical Advisor I, Digital Health
- UNICEF is looking for a Local Consultant: Senior Java Developer to be posted in Yemen.
- The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) is looking for an Intern Urban Circuit based in Rio De Janeiro.
- The African Development Bank (AfDB) is in search of a Junior Consultant to take on the position at the Coding for Employment flagship program.
- Maryland Global Initiatives Corporation (MGIC) is looking for a Data Management Technical Lead
- The World Resources Institute (WRI) is looking to hire an API and Services Manager.
- Development Initiatives Poverty Research is seeking out a Technical Data Researcher to be based in Bristol.
- UNOPS is looking for an IT Engineer to be based in Valencia, Spain.
- UNICEF is looking to fill the position of Consultancy: WebXR Technical Adviser, Office of Innovation
- UNICEF is also looking for a Data Science and Back-End Developer Intern based in Senegal.
- The United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology is looking for a Senior Information Systems Assistant
- The Palladium Group is in search of a Technical Advisor, Digital Solutions
- Chemonics seeks a Global Technology Support Manager to be based in the United Kingdom (UK) office.
- The Palladium Group is also looking to hire a Project Director, Data for Implementation based in Washington, DC
- The WRI Forest Program is seeking a highly motivated Forest Atlas ArcGIS Server Specialist to work with the Global Forest Watch (GFW) team on a consultative basis.
- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is looking for a Data & Innovation Expert
- ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability are looking for a full-stack web developer based in the Philippines.
- SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is in search of a Monitoring Evaluation Accountability Learning (MEAL) Coordinator.
- The World Resources Institute (WRI) is looking for a Knowledge and Learning Data Intern
- VIAMO is on the lookout for a Deputy Director of Partnerships based in Washington DC.
- IntraHealth International seeks a qualified candidate for the position of Senior Measurement, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Manager for an upcoming USAID-funded global project.
- The World Bank is looking to hire a Senior IT Assistant, Client Services based in Brazil.
- Yayasan Peta Bencana (Disaster Map Foundation) is seeking to hire a developer/software engineer (or software development company) to work closely with their team in support of open source web mapping tools and services. This is a remote-based position.
- Medic Mobile is in search of a Partnerships Manager who can be based in the Nairobi, Kampala or Dakar office.
- Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) is in search of a Director of Technology who will serve as the organization’s Chief Technology Officer.
- CAMRIS is looking to fill the position of USAID Senior Data Scientist.
- World Renew is looking for a Program Coordinator to strengthen and coordinate the International Relief Manager (IRM) program.
There are more jobs to be found on the ICT4D Career Network. Jump over there now...