What Area Should I Specialize In?

A primary attraction to university graduates when choosing a career in consulting is the ability to work on many different projects, spread over a variety of functional areas.  After we have gained experience in many different industries however, it comes time to pick our specific area of interest and focus in.  In my opinion, this is particularly important, as it gives you a true specialty where you can be regarded as the expert in a particular field. 
However, then comes the question of … well what area should I specialize in?  It almost feels like your first year of university again; you are trying to decide what direction you want to take your life in, yet don’t have a fully formed idea of where you want to go yet.  This time, instead of wondering if you should get a Business or Computer science degree however, you’re deciding if you want to go into enterprise architecture, business analysis or be a functional expert in SAP for example.  While these are more specific focus areas, the range of possibilities is still overwhelming.
I personally have a business degree, and went into consulting having only the vague idea that I was interested in business analysis and change management.  Over the course of my project, my eyes have definitely been opened to the areas that I am interested or not interested in.  For example, I found that I am not interested in the systems testing field, however I really enjoy system configuration. 
While it is one thing to realize where you want to go, the next step is to pursue it.  My experiences in this area have led me to three conclusions.
1. If you have the opportunity to get involved in something new, jump on it.  I entered my project in a testing role, however as I became more knowledgeable about the system I was given the opportunity to become involved in system configuration and I haven’t looked back since.
2. Search out every piece of training material you can find.  Even though you might not have actual experience in an area, being able to speak knowledgably about it will gain you a seat at the table.
3. Sometimes a little extra work goes a long way.  Volunteering to help out in an area outside your current job description shows your interest and your willingness to go above and beyond.  Co-workers and clients truly appreciate this and will remember your willingness to assist before, and likely involve you straight off the bat in the future.

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