Back to Full Time or Consulting?


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Thread: Back to Full Time or Consulting?

  1. #1
    Jason Langston Guest

    Back to Full Time or Consulting?

    Hey all,
    Had the wonderful experience last week of being laid off from my full time
    corporate programming job. "Adverse economic conditions ..." and such.
    Naturally I'm hoping the job market isn't as bleak as some posters have said
    or implied!
    Here's where I'd like some input - I don't have a degree, but have Microsoft
    certifications (MCP - VB, MCDBA, MCSE) and several years experience. Am I
    better off pursuing consulting work (my previous employer has expressly
    stated they'd be interested in hiring me as a consultant) or going back to
    the full-time grind? I've always wanted to do consulting, but it seems that
    successful consultants have quite a few years of experience (more than
    myself). On the other, here in the Northeast a lot of emphasis is placed on
    a college degree, in many instances being the "first cut" criterion, for the
    corporate positions I've applied for. Also, my programming experience has
    been entirely as the lone developer. This lack of team experience is a major
    weakness in the eyes of many corporate employers. Would this be seen as an
    asset for a consultant?

    Thanks in advance for any advice or thoughts,

    JasonL



  2. #2
    Elena Guest

    Re: Back to Full Time or Consulting?


    "Jason Langston" <jasonl@nospamwirelesszone.com> wrote:
    >Here's where I'd like some input - I don't have a degree, but have >Microsoft

    certifications (MCP - VB, MCDBA, MCSE) and several years >experience. Am
    I better off pursuing consulting work (my previous employer has expressly
    stated they'd be interested in hiring me as a consultant) or going back to
    the full-time grind? I've always wanted to do consulting, but it seems that
    successful consultants have quite a few years of experience (more than myself).
    <<<<

    There's a couple issues here. First, the term "consulting" covers a VERY
    broad range of situations. Everything from one-man shows to being, essentially,
    a full-time employee of a large consulting firm. So the lack of a college
    degree would be just as much of a show-stopper at the big consulting firms
    as it is as many full-time employers. However it might not be an issue at
    smaller firms or if you're on your own. Also, I'm not sure what you mean
    by the "full-time grind". I have not found consulting to be "less work"
    than being a full-time employee. I chose to go back to consulting for different
    reasons.


    >Also, my programming experience has been entirely as the lone developer.
    >This lack of team experience is a major weakness in the eyes of many >corporate

    employers. Would this be seen as an asset for a consultant?

    If the consulting gig is to be part of a large development team, you will
    again see the same attitude in consulting as in full-time employment. (Can
    he work on a team?) However, if the nature of the assignment means working
    alone, without a support system, then an employer would look favorably on
    you "independent experience" knowing you can manage without a lot of hand-holding.


    For me, the decision to go back to consulting was rooted in the fact that
    as a full-time employee, I was basically "assigned" an area to support and
    I could not, despite my best efforts, get my employer to consider moving
    me to projects where my technical skills could be kept up to date. Now,
    working for a mid-size consulting firm, I have better opportunities because
    I AM the product and if my skills are out-of-date, their product offering
    suffers. Please know that not ALL consulting companies operate this way
    - - some are just as bad as my former employers - - they use you for what
    you know and dump you when they don't need that particular skill any more.


    As a short-term fix, I would take the consulting assignment at your former
    employer because the market is not great right now and I imagine you need
    the income. But you might think about how you want to proceed long-term.
    And know that whatever arrangement you make, job security depends on your
    ability to keep your skills in sync with market demand. And you might consider
    going back and getting that college degree for the long-term benefit.

    Best of Luck!

  3. #3
    David K. Guest

    Re: Back to Full Time or Consulting?


    "Jason Langston" <jasonl@nospamwirelesszone.com> wrote:
    >Here's where I'd like some input - I don't have a degree, but have Microsoft
    >certifications (MCP - VB, MCDBA, MCSE) and several years experience. Am

    I
    >better off pursuing consulting work (my previous employer has expressly
    >stated they'd be interested in hiring me as a consultant) or going back

    to
    >the full-time grind?


    As Elena pointed out, "consulting" can mean different things. You can work
    as a "freelance" developer where you handle all of the leg work for getting
    gigs yourself. You can also work for a "consulting company" where you are
    a full-time employee of the company, and the company contracts you out to
    different companies. In this case, the company handles all of the work involved
    with landing contracts and the like.

    I haven't worked in the consulting arena myself, but I have interacted with
    people that have. My impression is that going the "freelance" route gives
    you the most freedom, but it also means that you have to do a lot of the
    grunt work yourself. Meanwhile, working for a consulting company frees you
    from the work of making contacts, finding gigs, etc, but you don't have the
    freedom that comes with being your own master. I know people who have had
    great experiences with consulting companies, and others who haven't. I guess
    it depends upon the individual company.

    Good luck to you!



  4. #4
    Paul Garceau Guest

    Re: Back to Full Time or Consulting?


    "Jason Langston" <jasonl@nospamwirelesszone.com> wrote:
    >Hey all,
    >Had the wonderful experience last week of being laid off from my full time
    >corporate programming job. "Adverse economic conditions ..." and such.
    >Naturally I'm hoping the job market isn't as bleak as some posters have

    said
    >or implied!


    Depends on your information sources.

    >Here's where I'd like some input - I don't have a degree, but have Microsoft
    >certifications (MCP - VB, MCDBA, MCSE) and several years experience. Am

    I
    >better off pursuing consulting work (my previous employer has expressly
    >stated they'd be interested in hiring me as a consultant) or going back

    to
    >the full-time grind?


    No one can really say what is best for you. However, as someone just now
    considering consulting, the only real difference between a consultant and
    someone who is on the company payroll (benis, etc.) is that as a consultant
    you are required to pick and choose which positions you want to do.

    To destroy some of the romantic notion of what it means to be a "Consultant"
    let me say it is not as glamorous as it sounds. "consulting" is nothing
    more than a fancy way of saying "contracting". Granted, I am rather jaded
    with over 25 years of "consulting" (aka "contracting") experience.

    The advantages of being a contractor (will use the "realistic term" for
    "consultant") is that you can indeed pick and choose what you do or do not
    want to do. For instance, as a break from the contracting I took about a
    seven year sabbatical back in the mid-late 80s because I was feeling very
    "burnt out" about contracting. Of course I had to pay for it, but that is
    to be expected.

    In terms of working for the so-called "Consulting" firms, be prepared to
    deal with extended durations of unemployment when the market is poor or "soft"
    as it is now. A consultants/contractors livlihood is ruled by the vagueries
    of the stock market.

    If your skills are in "high" demand, then you can live like a "King", but
    if
    something happens, like OS certification is dropped (after you've spent years
    and lots of someone elses money becoming certified) then you are basically
    "unemployed" unless you can find something or somewhere that is still
    needing your certifications.

    The advantages of being on a corporate payroll (in a full-time permanent
    position) is that you are protected much more (relatively speaking) than
    you
    would be protected when you are riding the market-economy roller-coaster.

    Independent Contractors (aka Consultants) must deal with this market-economy
    roller-coaster as any old defense contractor could tell you. Especially
    if you ask the contractor about what happened when the cold-war was
    "officially" over.

    > I've always wanted to do consulting, but it seems that
    >successful consultants have quite a few years of experience (more than
    >myself).


    This is more about creating and maintaining a reputation than anything
    else. Everyone who contracts/consults has a reputation to maintain, not
    only for themselves but for the firm that is brokering the consultants' or
    contractors' work.

    > On the other, here in the Northeast a lot of emphasis is placed on
    >a college degree, in many instances being the "first cut" criterion, for

    the
    >corporate positions I've applied for.


    If someone (a brokerages' client) is desperate enough, they will bypass
    these educational limitations if there is sufficient experience noted on
    the job-history/resume supplied to the broker for the
    contractor/consultant.

    This latter, combined with a healthy dose of "desperation" go a very long
    way in determining whether or not someone is wanting to hire a consultant
    or contractor.

    Most times, consultants/contractors are "under the gun", ie.
    high-pressure work environments, but they get paid for it (that's how we
    manage to live like "Kings/Queens" some of the time).

    > Also, my programming experience has
    >been entirely as the lone developer. This lack of team experience is a major
    >weakness in the eyes of many corporate employers. Would this be seen as

    an
    >asset for a consultant?


    Much depends on the firm who is looking for a consultant/contractor.

    Most of them (the consulting/contracting firms) are far more strict than
    your typical
    employer because their reputation (the brokers') is based on your
    performance in an assigned position. You are always (pick a metaphor)
    "room with glass walls", "a fish-bowl" or "on display" when you consult or
    contract. If you don't like feeling separate and apart from the rest of
    the organization your working at as a consultant/contractor, then
    consulting/contracting may not be the ideal world for you.

    It is not my intent to dissuade you from pursuing the exciting
    (lots and lots of exotic <hint of sarcasm> travel) and
    adventure-filled life of a contractor/consultant.

    It is only my intent to rip away the unrealistic and very romantic
    illusions associated with the term, "Consultant". Someone who has a
    "real" sense of that world, is better able to decide whether it is the
    right world for them or not. I hope, that in some small way, I have
    given you a better sense of that world.

    As for me, well Consulting/Contracting is what I've been doing for
    over 25 years now.

    >
    >Thanks in advance for any advice or thoughts,
    >
    >JasonL


    Good Luck!

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