When people first consider venturing into technical consulting, they weigh the pros and cons. The money they’ll make versus the lack of benefits. The starting of a new job every year versus corporate monotony. The one thing that technologists don’t often consider in these internal debates, however, is just how technical consulting advances your career.There are 6 ways IT consulting allows you to enhance your skills, resume, and career options that FTE positions don’t allow for.
One. Technical consulting forces you to take ownership of your career.
As a technical consultant, you will be exposed to a variety of different technologies and work environments. This experience allows you to see where the future is, and where the market is going. This is obviously advantageous. You’ll be able to figure out your next career move, and settle into that position, before your technology becomes dated. Sticking with the same company and technology, a FTE may not see the signs of change and lose out on the opportunity to transition their skills in time.
Two. IT consulting forces you to take ownership of your projects.
As a technical consultant, there are more demands placed upon you. They called you in to solve a difficult problem, so you can’t go to your project manager, as you can as a full-time employee, and claim that you don’t know how to solve the issue. It won’t go over well. Such constraints and demands force you to be self-reliant, which gives you full ownership over your projects.
Three. IT consulting not only keeps your skills fresh, but also broadens them.
When you’re a FTE, you work on one specific technology, and on one specific piece of that technology. This is different from a technical consultant, who has to be a jack-of-all-trades, an expert, when it comes to their specific technology.
To become an expert, a technical consultant has to have both a breadth and depth of knowledge. This forces them to study up, learn more about their expertise, and to keep their skills fresh. Having this knowledge and becoming an expert in your field, without question, advances your career.
Four. Technical consulting offers complex challenges.
Technical consultants are brought on to projects in order to solve the challenging problem, and to find the difficult solution. Once they’ve done this, and their contract is up, they leave. The full-time employees are left to implement the program. Would you rather find the solution to the hard to solve problem, or do the same implementation every single day? As a technical consultant, you’ll get the challenging problems, which enhance your technical and problem solving skills.
Five. Technical consulting broadens your network.
When you’re a FTE, you may stay with one company for as long as 6 to 8 years. You get to know everyone well, and may even socialize with coworkers outside of work. While this may sound appealing, it doesn’t help you to grow your network. You see the same people day in and day out. You’re not being exposed to new people, new ideas, or new technology.
As a technical consultant, traveling from office to office, you are exposed to many different technologists and techniques. You learn from these people, and they learn from you. Through this information exchange, you expand your network of people, people who may know about an upcoming contract gig, or who are able to confidently recommend your work. With technical consulting, you are exposed to more people and ideas, both of which are invaluable as you search for your next contract.
Six. IT consulting allows you to focus on technology and problem solving.
As a FTE, does the sheer number of non-technical things your job demands often frustrate you? Like sitting in meetings dedicated to changing business processes? Being asked to offer your input on business or managerial decisions? My guess is yes. You probably didn’t expect to be involved in these office politics when you started out in the technical field. You just wanted to code. Now? You have to split your time between coding and office politics.
As a technical consultant you are given a free pass. You’re expected to stay out of the fray and not get involved with the office politics. They don’t expect you to put in your thoughts on how to change the business processes. You can simply work on the project that you were hired to do. This helps your career by giving you the time, and mental space, to be fully involved in your technical project. You’ll gain new skills, both technical and problem solving, which will make you better suited for a more challenging project down the line.
While there is a lot to consider when switching over to technical consulting, the ways in which it helps to advance your career should not be forgotten. Doesn’t the ability to be challenged, to take ownership, and to broaden your network weigh in technical consulting’s favor?
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