Tired Of Hearing About Specializations? Know What They Are!
Assuming all readers are above 18 years, most of you have already heard the word “specialization” somewhere in one form or another. Maybe on TV, Internet, Social Media, friends, or family. Somebody at some point of time must have used the term to just throw you off. People complicating simple stuff just to sound intelligent; it happens all the time you know? Aren’t we all sick of it already?
Nowadays, advertisements by big Ed-Tech brands have used the word specialization in almost every other ad. And I am not kidding, people generally use the term in synonymous to “expertise” outside the academic arena just to highlight the so-called division defining their field of work. Nothing but a fancy word if you ask me but of course there is a “professional” way to do everything, right? So now, we’ll learn about that too and everything that follows it.
Meanwhile, if you are wondering why this blog is starting so childishly, you must be new here. Hi, welcome to Culturisk, here we intend to simplify and demystify complexities of the business world in ways that are easier to understand & digest. So, don’t expect us to go all in because then it’ll defeat the whole purpose of this blog and might as well go over half of readers’ heads. We’re all in the same boat too. There are a million things I don’t know about and I promise not to write about them until I study them. Now keeping that in mind, we’ve made sure you don’t lose the quality and depth of knowledge shared here in any case. So even if we’re using simpler words, stick around to find out what lies beyond them.
Beginning with the most basic question – “What?”
Pretty much every new difficult concept can be decoded intelligently once you ask the question – “What the hell is it?”. Specialization, according to me, is a fancy word that people like to use to separate certain field of work or studies in which they assume to have expertise or wish to have it. This is a basic term that categorizes all expert knowledge based on their nature and use, for example, an Engineer’s specialization can be Civil, Mechanical, Instrumental, etc.
A management professional’s specialization can be Finance, Marketing, Human Resource, etc. So, if you are going to work or study in any specific field in depth, you better understand what specialization it is associated with. And how to grow your abilities in it before you step into the world of your specialization. Make sure you have the necessary knowledge, skill set, preparation, and practice.
Secondly, “Why” a specialization?
In the ever-changing world of business, technology, and advancement, not only the jobs but also companies, markets, and whole countries are rapidly changing their composition to keep up with the external and internal requirements. Responding to the needs of time, specialization i.e., expertise in your particular field would not be such a bad idea after all. In fact, it is predicted that by the year 2050, total of 87% jobs in every sector will require a mandatory specialization, according to www.ijustmadeupstatistics.com. Probably, someday, there would be a specialization required even for becoming a Janitor, you never know. Well, that’s the point the world is hell bent on providing you some specific problems and then provides you their specific solutions. It’s just the same stuff going on. But since, we’re in this system and we need to get to the other side we have to play by the rules. Of course, the end goal is to have freedom and independence and minimum if not zero rules but until we get there, we must find a way to deal with the system and carve out our way to reach the destination. Well nowadays one of those ways is getting a specialization.
Why is a specialization needed –
A specialization in professional or technical fields hold high value because people believe in them to have taught you the core concepts, skills, and potential to improve. So, if you ask me, do I need to get a diploma, certificate, PG, UG, with specialization to land a good job. Understanding all that we discussed now, the answer wouldn’t be a straight yes or no. Indeed, you can have a fruitful career without specialization but for millions and millions of people this systematic structure of education and training has worked for many years with minute changes. Hence it is safest to assume that it works for you too. In short there is less harm and more benefit in following the specialization route.
How – How the hell does this thing work?
Every specialization is different from another but in order to dive deep in it, I will use an example of my university, my course, and my specializations. To get a clearer picture, imagine that you are in my shoes. An MBA student under Lloyd Business School affiliated to the Dr. Abdul Kalam Technical University receiving the post-graduation degree on semester basis. Cool? Now remember that there are 4 semesters to be covered in 2 years span. The first year consists of general business subjects throughout the first 2 semesters; which we can call “essentials” for lack of a better word from the perspective of a management student.
At the end of the first year, there will be a point where you have to choose your specializations to proceed into the 2nd year which is also the final year. In my college, following specializations were available for students to grab – Marketing, Finance, Human Resource, International Business, Information Technology, Operations etc. Sharing from my experience, I needed to decide among these options my major and minor specializations. Major should always be your primary goal or target and minor should always be your backup plan or contingency. There can be multiple different subject under each specialization so don’t get confused just yet.
Okay now, brothers and sisters, here is where shit hits the fan and stuff gets even more complicated. The structure of syllabus in every institute/university may differ so there is no point in memorizing one specific way of approaching or preparing for specializations through academics. Now you must be wondering what other ways should I try to get better equipped then? Experience, indeed it is going to sound dull and boring but that’s all you’ll ever need in order to prepare better for any career. Experience. However, as a general rule of thumb you need to understand the concept of choosing a specialization that is suitable for you, with what you have and where you want to go that will answer what and how to choose. Read it again.
Now how do you decide, which specialization to go for?
That is the biggest question in everybody’s mind. And below is my way that helped me reach my answer:
This may sound weird to you but this is what I personally believe worked for me and may or may not work for everybody else. I made a list of all following things and started seeking their scope –
Number – 1
My Strengths –
My natural strengths are my biggest asset. Most of us are born with certain qualities or raised in such a way that certain qualities become our strength. Which talent do I possess? what am I good at? I must note them down. (Without hard work)
Number – 2
External Environment – According to my strengths, which markets will need me? And in those markets, what is expected out of an employee/business? What is relevant? And for how long? This can only be explored if you actually work for a certain period of time before going for post graduation. Which is also my advice to all graduate students! Get a work experience of at least a year or two before you shoot for MBA or PGDM. In this way you’ll be able to find gaps in the industry that you can fill up later on after receiving your advanced PG degree. That’s exactly where you fit in your specialization. Without a work experience we’d be clueless as to why we need PG in the first place. There’s no point in studying continuously for 23-25 years without peeping outside the comfort of a home. Go out there, discover real world problems then find solutions for them through your MBA or PGDM.
Number – 3
My Path – How can I be ready? How can I reach my destination? Plan of action.
(i) Research – Not just the internal but also external environment thoroughly. Not just about the market I am going to target but also the bigger picture: the whole industry, or maybe country or world. Where do I stand in this world? Researching opportunities at every level starting from the smallest and gradually preparing as I move up. Find out the gaps that I can fill in with my presence, expertise, and knowledge. And obviously it all must be time-bound.
(ii) Prioritize – What is important to me right now? What is urgent? What is my necessity? What is my need? Then wants and then desires. I need to list them in parallel to all other factors on the same paper.
(iii) Relate – I need to find correlation between each two variables and then form a systematic mind map of what input will give what kind of output. This will enable me to relate which actions will bring out which results according to their sequence, nature, and value.
(iv) Reduce – Then I need to sort out all unnecessary things from the system. I need to remove each and every distraction, misdirection, and neutral variable so that my actions have only positive and progressive result.
(v) Focus – Remaining points after the deduction of unnecessary variables will be my focus then I can fully dedicate my time, efforts, and other resources on building them even more.
Number – 4
My Input – Implementation of the plan, education, training, skills & practice. (With hard work)
Number – 5
My Interests – My likings, hobbies, and passion come last but they can alter everything else for the long term. Hence, it is something you need to take into account at the very end. It is always the safest to assume that: I may not always get what I want. But I should always do what I like to keep improving.
If you’ve noticed the words in bracket – “without hard-work” and “with hard-work”, then you must’ve gotten my hint. Through the hint I was trying to differentiate between talent and skill. Your talent is something that comes to you naturally with ease. No extra efforts are required to perform well in those areas where you already hold mastery. But some areas need to be perfected with practiced and studies, those are your skills.
Now what’s the difference between minor and major?
Major is your primary specialization in which you wish to build your career. Major is always your “Plan A”, based upon your above mentioned priorities. However, minor is your backup plan. Please make sure your minor is not far off your plan A. Because the need of minor specialization is practical. Below are the reasons why minor and major specializations exist separately:
- We might want to change our career path after some time so we need a minor specialization to hop on to.
- Minor specialization allows us to start with a new beginning in a different direction.
- Every person can multitask or follow duality in career with predetermined priority.
- Time, conditions, or environment may force us to change our job type.
- Whole industries may face recession or problems so we need contingency.
How to select the combination of Major and Minor specializations?
- Choose your major first with respect to all 5 criterias discussed above. Choose your minor only after selecting the major.
- Choose a minor that compliments your major. Do not choose extremely opposite ends.
- Choose minor that you can easily switch to after 5-7 years down the line.
- Make sure your major and minor relate but do not directly depend on each others. So that you are not at risk in both ways at once in any situation.
- Some best combinations of major and minor are as follows:
- If your major is Marketing, the best options for your minor would be Operations, International Business, Information Technology, in this order, from best suitable to least. Because the fields compliment each other, relate to each other, but also do not depend on each others.
- Similarly, if your major is Finance, the best options for your minor are – Human Resource, International Business, Information Technology, in this order.
- The worst combinations according to me are – Finance + Marketing, HR + Marketing, and HR + Operations.
- All the combinations of specializations are technically possible but some are logically better than other combinations in a general sense.
- Exceptionally gifted people may pull off worst combinations as well, but the dangers of change persist for them as well.
Needless to say, this may or may not be the right way for everyone but if you are a person who likes to keep things organized as much as me. This approach will definitely help you. And last but not the least, experience, action, and mistakes will teach us all better than any book, course, or teacher out there. So, all we need to do is go out and get our own experience, take some bold, consistent, and relevant actions, and finally make our own mistakes to be a better version of ourselves.
Good luck choosing your specialization! Please do consider supporting Culturisk for more interesting content like this. Take care. Peace out.