The Daily Eastern News

Be open to learning many skills

Angelica Cataldo, Columnist

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Jack of all trades, but a master of none; still better than a master of one.

The term “jack of all trades” was first referenced in 1592 by author Robert Greene’s famous booklet “Greene’s Groats-Worth of Wit” when he negatively referred to actor and playwright William Shakespeare to critique his published work at the time.

The “master of none” portion was added later, which was meant to describe a person who has knowledge in numerous subjects and skills, but does not have specialization in any of them.

Then came the “better than a master of one,” which ultimately makes the phrase a compliment.

The phrase now has a more positive connotation when it is used to describe a person who can bring a number of skills to the table and make them work in a local and practical way in order to problem-solve.

Whether you agree with the sentiment of this phrase or not, you cannot argue that having a working knowledge of numerous subjects can potentially make you an invaluable resource to prospective employers, and in general.

Whether it is a good or bad thing, I like to think of myself as a “jack of all trades” because I like jumping from subject to subject learning new information and skills and then turning around and trying to apply them. Then, when I feel like I have the hang of the concept, I move on and learn something new.

Is this conducive to my work ethic? I sure as hell do not know, but I do know that when I fill out an application and hand in a resume, I have a whole lot of skills and knowledge in various fields that will prove useful to my future employers.

I think this concept is inherently useful for my generation and generations to come, especially if those people are not planning to focus their skills on a trade job that calls for professional specialists who emphasize their work in one field.

As a journalist, it is no longer enough to be a good reporter and solid writer. You must be able to take a photo, shoot video, edit audio, manage social media, do extensive research and know how to use various editing and design programs.

I imagine every other field of study requires you to know more than your concentrated discipline of work, and I think that is exactly how people should view their education.

Knowledge is valuable, and if you have the chance to be exposed to new information or work with a professional who can teach you a new skill or get you interested in a new topic, it is an opportunity you should never turn down.

Nearly every day, I hear people say, “I’m going into *insert subject here,* why do I need to learn *insert course material here*?”

If anything, that train of thought is regressive and will only set a person up for failure when they enter the working world. 

I used to think the same thing about the Pythagorean Theorem. Now I use that concept every day, and I’m just a journalist.

Learn as much as you can about everything you can or you’ll just be a one-trick pony with no real value.

Angelica Cataldo is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.
Be open to learning many skills