When we were at school we were usually taught to be all-rounders, to be passable at everything, to be a “Jack of all Trades”. If we happened to be deficient in a subject we were often given remedial teaching to bring us up to “standard”.
A school report with 6 Bs was seen as a better report than one with 1 A+ and 5 Cs, and still is to a large extent.
Not any more, in my opinion anyway.
In the world of work, whether it is in the microbiology lab, or on the wards, it is really important to find yourself a niche. Something that you are better that than everybody else in the workplace. An area where if there is a problem, then you get sought out to find the solution.
It is critical that you find a niche for yourself in an area that you are passionate about. Work colleagues tend to notice when you are passionate about something and they generally respect and defer to this passion.
Examples of niches in the clinical microbiology lab include knowing how to type isolates on a MALDI-TOF analyser, being an expert on culture media, knowing a biohazard cabinet inside out. But to be honest, it doesn’t really matter what your niche is, as long as you have one.
Work is a more hostile environment than school, and it is well worthwhile finding yourself a niche area. Otherwise someone else will find a niche for you, and often one you didn’t want in the first place….
Check out this nice article on finding a career niche. (about a 5 min read)