Just over 15 years ago I graduated with a degree in Management Information Systems and began my career in IT Consulting. In looking back on those 15 years, I’ve realized that a career in consulting afforded me the ability to learn and grow faster within the Information Technology field than I may have elsewhere. Graduating technology students have many choices when it comes to selecting an area within the IT field: Consulting, Independent Contracting, internal Information Technology departments, start-ups, tech product firms, etc. To explain some of my passion for the IT consulting field, here’s my list of the top 5 reasons young people should seriously consider getting into IT Consulting:
Change: A year in consulting is worth 5 in industry
o Imagine working in multiple customer environments every year, each with their unique business goals, challenges, tech stacks, and culture. Consultants get to be contributors to and learn from, a wide variety of companies. The downside: you won’t ever have a permanent cubicle to decorate with pictures of your dogs.
Choice: Evolve your tech focus per YOUR interests
o In consulting you’re not confined by your employers’ sometimes aging tech stack. Consultants are prized for their currency with technologies, so you’ll have great support in continuous learning and bringing these new ideas and technologies to each of your customers. Since you’re not limited by your firm’s internal technology choices, you can morph your tech focus over time as you see fit (and of course as the marketplace/customers demand).
Mentorship: Learn and work alongside some of the most talented technologists and leaders
o Consultants deliver not in isolation, but with the combined strength of their full consulting practice. As a result, even if you’re the sole consultant at a Client site you have the support of your peers, who are likely some of the top minds and talents in their fields. Learn from and work alongside the best!
Career Growth: Grow as quickly as you’re able, not per a company’s openings.
o Want a promotion from Consultant to Senior Consultant, or Managing Consultant to Principal Consultant? Just learn, work very hard, and deliver with excellence. The best consulting firms are true meritocracies, and they encourage upward mobility. As a result, your level in a consulting firm and the speed at which you progress is determined by you. So don’t fret, unlike many stagnant companies you don’t have to wait for your manager to pass away to be considered for promotion.
Tracks: Become a technical expert, a delivery expert or grow into consulting management
o Careers in consulting don’t follow a single track. Although we all started out as the lowest members of a totem pole, many of my peers became technical experts, speakers at conferences and user groups and built a personal brand known within their community. Others have chosen to focus on the delivery of consulting engagements, becoming masters of analysis and ultimately project and program management. For some, a career in consulting management is the goal, usually starting with managing accounts or local consulting practices and later managing national consulting practices or regions.
Consulting is not easy, and it’s certainly not for everyone with an interest in technology, but it can be a fast-paced and rewarding career. If you’ve got the intelligence and personality and you’re willing to work hard, embrace continuous learning and always put the customer first, consulting will likely be an excellent career choice. And if you ever get burned out from the constant change, you can always find that comfy cubicle in the outside world.