Considering a Career in IT Consulting?
In my last blog, I talked about the difference between working as an internal software developer for one company vs. working as a software consultant. If the idea of turning your expertise into a successful consulting career appeals to you, it’s helpful to understand the reality of the job requirements – the good and the bad – before pursuing that next step in your career.
Consulting isn’t for everyone, but it certainly has been very, very good for me. To help gain deeper insight into the life of an IT consultant, I’ve put together a list of the advantages and challenges of working in this fast-paced industry.
The Exciting Career of IT Consulting
- You will learn new technology. In general, consulting is far more dynamic than software development because you work with and within the constraints and tools your clients impose. Not only does this keep things interesting, but it makes you more valuable by expanding your skillset.
- You will be exposed to a variety of businesses. Your clients can range from universities to collections agencies, from trucking companies to AV production companies. There’s no limit to the exposure you can get to business both large and small. This will provide you with a breadth of experience that can give you a broad perspective of ways to approach different challenges – and again, it keeps things interesting.
The Reality of IT Consulting
- You must learn new technology. You may be an expert building mobile apps with Xamarin, and if they are smart, your consultancy will take advantage of that skill and target it at appropriate projects. However, sooner or later, you are going to be asked to work on something that you have little experience with, and occasionally something you aren’t particularly interested in. Having to pick up a new skill, under pressure, even with senior consultants to help you out can be a stressful challenge.
- You must quickly understand your client’s business, even if that business is not something you are passionate about. Maybe you love diving deep into a database and understanding every nuance of optimizing queries or data storage, but how an LTL freight carrier works or how to calculate XNPV for a portfolio of investments may not interest you. Consulting doesn’t always afford you the luxury of being a “pure tech” person if that’s what you want to do.
What to Look for in an IT Consulting Company
Good consulting companies will try to steer you towards projects that you are interested in, or are interested in learning. At SWC, consultants are encouraged to express what kinds of technologies or projects they want to work with and learn more about. As much as project dictates, leadership should try to accommodate your preferences. Consultants should also be encouraged to present ideas, frameworks, and prototypes of technologies or methods that they are passionate about to their peers and leaders – it might become adopted as a new standard or at least another tool in the box.
Some consulting companies, especially large ones, have roles or departments that are specialized and siloed in a particular technology or process. So, if you really want to stay focused in one area, you can probably find a consulting company that will let you do that.
Consulting isn’t for everyone; it’s fast-paced and challenging. Some people try it and realize it isn’t for them. But some people who get into consulting are hooked. If there’s one thing consulting is not, it’s boring. I, myself, can’t imagine working in an internal capacity for one company after getting a taste of the consulting world. My team and I are constantly challenged to work together to solve new problems and stretch our skillset as technology evolves. Our skills grow with the market, and that’s not something you always get working for an internal IT team. Every project is different, and I am never bored with the same routine.
If you’re interested in learning more about what it’s like to work in consulting, check out our open positions on our Careers page to see if there is a job that interests you and someone from our Recruiting Team will be happy to connect.