We humans like to categorize things and we make no exception with other humans. We typecast them, stereotype them, and place them into boxes. A Gemini, Type A personality, Alpha, INFP. As if any of these can accurately sum up the totality of a person.
You’re a designer or a developer or a researcher or a content strategist. Or maybe you’re a bit of everything.
My first job in the web industry, back in 1999, was as a technical architect at a digital agency. That meant I figured out how we should build the sites and applications for our clients. I also did a lot of technical writing, providing documentation for clients for said sites and applications.
When I moved into a larger agency, I was relegated to being a backend developer. That’s what people in the company saw me as and it was difficult to change that.
After my freelance life, I’ve been a front-end developer, a designer, a product manager, and back to being a front-end developer.
Something old, something new
Every time I got known for something, I tried something new. I love the challenge of learning something new.
Don’t grow up to be a specialist. Diversity is your best defence against myopia.
— Jonathan Rosenberg, SVP of Products at Google
There’s the idea of being T-shaped. It is the idea of going deep in a particular skill but going broad to gain empathy. In this sense, I’ve aimed to be more U-shaped. I hope I’ve gained more empathy but going deep in a more extensive set of skills. (It was this extended skill set that I feel made me a better product manager.)
Our industry continues to grow and offers up even more opportunities to try new things. It may very well be time for me to try something new again.