the Robertorium

jack of all trades, master of none

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein

In the interest of specialisation, I’ve just spent the last six years getting my bachelor’s degree in software engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology. I found software engineering to be a field that requires my full attention. Daily, I was blown away by the prolific production that many of my peers were able to sustain, juggling the creation of a whole software system from scratch in each course while also churning out software toys galore for the Society of Software Engineers, their own personal software projects, and tech talks. I struggled to keep up with just the class projects, let alone any side projects.

That is, any software side projects. While at university, I made time to act in major roles in several plays and student films, to learn how to pick locks, to become proficient in Spanish while tutoring students learning English, to learn how to ride a bicycle in a blizzard. I made time to create treasure hunt games for my girlfriend. Hell, I made time to have a serious relationship - even that much is more than some of my accomplished classmates could say.

But every moment that I spent diversifying my skills and interests was a moment in which my peers pulled ahead of me in the one thing at which so many of them excel: making software. So now I come to the end of my time at university, and, to be quite honest, I’m not a world-class software engineer. I did not specialise to the degree that would have been necessary to be strongly competitive. I’ve failed my on-site interviews at all of the large tech companies that interest me, and am now left to face less than exciting job prospects for which I went $50,000 into debt.

Would you believe that I’m not really sorry?

I have lived a pretty rich life so far, and despite having pushed tens of my personal projects and hobbies onto the back burner, many of them weathered the storm of school, and I still have a wide variety of proficiency. Not expertise, just proficiency, but I’m okay with that. I’m glad for that. I can do just about anything decently, and for a restless person like me, that’s good news - in finding something to do in life, nothing will stick, but at least I won’t get stuck.

This website is my platform to show off things that I do and things that I make in a number of different creative media. Some day, I’ll post about building my own house, shooting a film, writing a short story in a second language, and, yes, also writing some code. But for now, I’m going to enjoy being a soap maker’s apprentice for a living, because variety is not the spice of life; it’s the substance.

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