For the first 20 years of my career, I worked at a large health insurance company (17,000 employees). Now I work in a small creative/marketing agency (40 employees). The differences in my work life are too numerous to document here, but one of the more interesting questions I find myself debating is the basic career choice of being a generalist vs a specialist.
During my years in the large organization, I felt sure that the best career approach (at least for me) was to be a generalist. Moving around every 4-5 years, seeking out jobs that were quite different from my previous experience, working hard not to be niched in any one particular area. I reveled in my generalist career strategy, and it served me quite well.
Now in a much smaller firm, I find myself much more drawn to being very good at a few things. Maybe even seen as an "expert" in a field, or industry, or type of work. In fact, being a generalist at what I do today is a path to commoditization, both for me and for my firm. If you need a generalist, you find the cheapest one you can get. But if you need an expert, you are willing to pay big bucks to get their advice.
This is exactly the opposite of what I expected to experience since the conventional wisdom is that in a big firm everyone does one or two things, but in a small firm you are called on to do a bit of everything.
What is your career strategy? Be really good at something, or be decent at a whole bunch of things?
And are you ready if it turns out your original career strategy doesn't work for you anymore?