Being a consultant is never boring, well, if it is, it isn’t boring for long! I have been a consultant for the last 8 years, within the IT industry. The work has mostly been challenging and rewarding and has often pushed me to do more in order to achieve great results.
For me, the benefits of being an ICT consultant include:
Working with the latest technology
Sometimes when you work for an organisation, you can be forced to use whatever proprietary software the organisation has developed, in order to get your job done. Leaving the organisation eventually, becomes somewhat tricky, as the skills gained while employed may not be transferable to the next place of employment. Being a consultant, the skills gained are typically around a range of software that is marketable. The more you can work for a variety of customers, the better.
Organisations can often have long delays before rolling out to the latest piece of software. Working as a consultant often means that the software that you get to work with is the latest version. As a consultant, you are expected to know a lot about the latest and greatest in regards to technology. Having access to the latest versions definitely makes working more interesting as you get to play with new things before most people get the chance to.
Working in different environments, often
Every new client requires a new induction process of some kind. Being a consultant is like starting fresh each time you get to work with someone new. Instead of working somewhere for years and years, consultancy work can take you to many different clients within a short space of time. Work duration can be for a long period (months or years) or a short period (days or weeks). Working in different locations and the change that comes with it can be very exciting. Change is like a holiday after all. Working as a consultant also means that if you happen to work in an environment that isn’t to your liking, that the chances are, that you won’t be there for long.
Working on different projects
The busier you are as a consultant, the better. The whole point of being a consultant is being able to be billable and marketable within the industry. The more in demand your skills are, the more likely you are to be able to work for a variety of clients, on numerous projects. Project sizes can vary greatly from short pieces, that can be completed quickly, to large projects, involving many people, including both clients and other consultants, that can take a long time to complete.
In order to keep up with the latest in technology and to keep skills up to date, it is important to continually learn, either on the job, or in your own time. Learning is such a positive thing to do. It not only leads to more opportunities, but it also provides confidence and knowledge in a particular field.
Going outside of your comfort zone
Sometimes, working as a consultant, you have to take on work, just to be billable, even if it isn’t what you are completely interested in. Sometimes, it is this particular type of work that can push you to go outside of your comfort zone. Perhaps you are requested to run a workshop to a large number of clients, or you have to meet with somebody that you would otherwise feel intimated to talk to. Being a consultant means that you have to take on any work that comes your way. Sometimes, it is these pieces of work that challenge you the most and that can actually force you to grow more as a consultant.
Improving soft skills: communication, documentation, presenting
At the heart of consultant work is communication. Regardless of what role you have, from developer to project manager, communication is integral to everything you do. Every step along the way, the client needs to be updated on progress, whether it is from an email, a presentation or a meeting. Written skills in the form of documentation is important to have, as the client always needs to know what changes have come along with the project.
Being an expert in your field
The longer you are able to consult, the more that you are able grow as a consultant. The more you learn, the more you will grow in your knowledge. The more you work with clients and have successful relationships with them, the more you will be seen as an expert in your field.
Meeting and working with amazing people
Probably the best and most rewarding part of being a consultant is all the amazing people you get to work with, whether the people you work with are other consultants or clients at a client site. The people side to consultancy allows you to work with a greater number of people than if you were to work for the same organisation for many years. Friendships can be formed, which can also lead to more work in the future.