In Defence of the Jack of all trades

by Jerome Kuseh

Photo credit: Wikipedia
I started blogging regularly in 2011. Some people who knew me only from my blog thought I was some kind of journalism student and they were genuinely surprised to learn that I was pursuing a degree in accounting. During my one-year mandatory national service in 2013, I started my business blog, ceditalk.com, partly to prove that I could write about business as well.
As an accounting student, I was disappointed when my first internship stints were in the Marketing and Sales department of a multinational company. I was happy for the experience, but I would have preferred to be in the Accounting and Finance department. That was about four years ago, I now believe that I could not have had it better.
The experienced I have gained in marketing and sales, teaching, writing, auditing and accounting have proven to be invaluable to my entrepreneurial set-up and my current role as the curator of an online media project.
The popular saying about being a jack of all trades and a master of none should be retained only for the purpose of language, but it is no longer a realistic mantra for any career plan, especially for undergraduates or recent graduates such as myself.
The very nature of a degree should dispel any such pejorative association with being a jack of all trades. Having a Bachelor of Science in Accounting or Economics or anything else usually means you have been exposed to several fields of knowledge such as Management, Philosophy, Marketing and Communications in the form of courses you had to take. This is needed because the work environment is usually not one which involves repetitive daily tasks.
Graduates will find out that they are usually going to be called upon to draft memos, letters, take minutes, cash cheques, file reports and so on, no matter what their main role is. My friend was even asked to design a logo for his company, and he works in the Accounting department!
I’m in no way saying people should not seek to specialise – having a good grasp on one field can be beneficial if you’re lucky (or unfortunate) enough to find a job where that is mostly what is needed. But that is simply not the case for many of the jobs that undergrads and recent grads are gunning for.
Do not take my word for it. Take a look at the LinkedIn profiles of say, 30 people, and look at their roles in relation to their education. Take a look further into the tasks they perform in their current job and finally look at their previous roles.
Let me know what you find and your thoughts on this article.
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Jerome Kuseh

Accountant | Economist-in-Training | Private Investor
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