We live in a society that values career specialization.
You’re not a “doctor” — you’re a pediatrician, an anesthesiologist, an oncologist.
You’re not a “lawyer” — you practice family law, or bankruptcy, or criminal law.You’re not an “engineer” — you’re an electrical engineer who specializes in solar technologies, or a civil engineer who specializes in the application of artificial intelligence in highway traffic design.
Specialization is beneficial and necessary, but specializing too early in life or too narrowly can also have drawbacks. According to today’s podcast guest, New York Times bestselling author David Epstein, overspecialization can stifle innovation if we’re all digging in parallel trenches. Sampling a broad range of subjects prior to specializing (e.g. at the undergraduate level, or as a hobby) allows people to make connections between far-flung domains and ideas.