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  • Writer's pictureTim Buchalka

Is It Possible to Focus on Two Areas of Software Development?

There’s a lot of advice out there that suggests that you should focus on one particular topic in your career. For example, you might want to focus on being a web developer or a games developer. But is it possible to focus and be an expert in two or more areas of computing? Let’s talk about that in today’s video.

Again, the question is again, whether it’s possible for you to be an expert and to work in two fields, topics or areas of programming at the same time. Now, my general advice is when you’re starting out as a programmer, you’re trying to learn the ropes, so to speak, is to focus on an individual area, get your skills up, start working in that area, and get some experience. Once you’ve done that, there’s no reason why you can’t move into other areas, and in fact, it’s relatively common to do that in the industry.

So for example, if you’ve got your first programming job, once you get that, you’ll probably be a junior programmer and you’ll be doing a particular aspect, a fairly junior level programming position will involve something along the lines of basic things. For example, you might be working on the front end of an application, your focus might be on getting the visual side of things working. But as you get more experience, you might find there’s other opportunities, you can get into the back end development where you’re more working on the functionality of updating databases and those sorts of things. Then as time goes on, you might find there’s other areas you can get into. You might find that you’re really resonating with that type of work, and might decide to perhaps do something completely different and get into game programming.

Now to give you an example, when I first started programming way back in the wild, wild west days, I started out playing around with games. So I started writing games because as a young lad, that’s what I liked doing, I liked playing computer games. So I did that, but as I started moving forward in my career. Once I’d become a professional programmer, I did do some professional game development, but I’ve switched over into a career in Java, and specifically, on the back end programming because what happened was a good opportunity and I quite enjoyed that aspect, writing the code that actually updated databases, as I mentioned before, is a common thing for back end developers to do.

But over the years I’ve transitioned, and I went back to game development, and I actually had a game company that I created probably about 10 years ago that released some games, and I actually had a great time. I actually managed a team of people to produce apps. So for me, it’s been a good journey moving around into different industries, but what would be fairly hard to do, I think, is if you tried to do this full time. In other words, you’d decide that you’re going to become a full time game developer, but also, you want to still keep your skills current as a back end developer, because at the end of the day, there’s only so many hours of the day available to you.

In general, my answer is yes you can do it, it is possible to specialize and be good in more than one area of computing, but because technology’s changing so fast, you might be good today, but if you’re not keeping those skills up, you’re not working in that particular area, you can find that your skills get quickly outdated. I think in general, my advice is it’s better to specialize and focus on a particular area, and then if you decide to get out of that area, you then focus on another area and try and specialize in that.

So the analogy I used was back end developer, focusing on that, and if you decide you’ve had enough of that, start looking somewhere else. Perhaps start focusing on game development and try and get into a full time job and full time work on that, and get really good at it. In general, stick to a particular area, specialize in that, and then if you’re not happy, start looking around, but there’s only so many hours available in the day, so you really have to focus on one thing that you can do really well. That’ll help your career and you really increase the amount of opportunities available to you.

I hope that helped. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

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