Specialize, dear children, until you can't specialize no more

Hey, friends.

Writing you from The Store at Soho House this afternoon. There's vegan food here, and I'm surrounded by terribly expensive designer clothes. It's all vaguely motivating, as I've been feeling a little The Devil Wears Prada. 

...And that brings me to today's rant. Friends, there's a big problem. I thought it was just a problem for the fresh-from-college crowd, but I am realizing it's something that we all may need to hear.

The problem looks like this:

Acquaintance: I'm looking for a marketing job!
Me: Nice. What sort of job are you looking for?
Acquaintance: Well, any sort of marketing position.
Me: Um. Okay.. so... Paid? Data? Social? Do you have an interest in a particular industry?
Acquaintance: Yeah, I want to work in marketing, or maybe management.
Me: *exits stage right* 

Do you see why this frustrates me? You saying "I want to work in marketing" provides me with exactly no information. Here's what's rolling around in my head during that conversation:

Have you ever worked with technical products? Do you prefer B2B or B2C? Do you have any experience with Adwords? Are you more interested in community management? If so, have you analyzed engagement data before? What do you know about SEO? Or CMS systems? Do you know Wordpress? Do you have contacts to journalists in any industry? Do you know what you're talking about?

I understand the instinct of wanting to be vague. You don't want to say anything that will get you crossed off the list before you've even had a chance to prove yourself, right? Which is why what I'm about to say sounds so counter-intuitive:

Specialize. Specialize, specialize, specialize. Specialize until you just can't specialize no more.

I know. It sounds scary. You don't want to get "stuck" on a path. But, to illustrate, I can only help one of these two people:

Person 1: "I'm looking for a job in marketing."

Person 2: "I'm looking for an entry-level marketing role. I know that a lot of marketing is math and data these days, which I think is really interesting. From what I know of different marketing job descriptions I've seen online, I think I would like SEO--it  seems like a strategy game. Or maybe working with paid advertising? I read this crazy article about.. is it called real-time bidding? And I think it would be really cool to work for a product that I love, so I want to find a job that deals with sports somehow. Maybe a surf brand?"

With six extra sentences, Person 2 is able to quickly explain that he or she actually know what a marketing department really does. I know what industry interests this person. I know whether or not I can help.

And if that hasn't convinced you, think of it this way. If you are *great* at one thing, employers will know exactly what they can hire you for... and when you're good at the second, third, and fourth things... well, that will just be an added bonus. You feel me?

Must be off. Just got a call from my producer for The Human Jukebox Project. His name is Jan. He said he's sitting at the lake with his kids, and that I should come hang out at the studio (also near said lake) tomorrow. And we'll start on arrangements for the first tracks! Wahaaaa!

Until soon,

Instagram: @alexashoen
Twitter: @alexashoen

PS: Thanks so much for reading this email. I am pretty stoked to see that this little unit of content-loving, ambitious, enlightened professionals is growing each week -- and that the vast majority of you actually take the time to hang out with me in your inbox on Wednesdays.

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