Been thinking of entering the world of IT Consulting?
You’re either one of two groups: you’ve just graduated and the thought of sitting in an office all day long freaks you out a bit; or you’ve been in the industry as a 9-to-5er and want to try something different now.
So what do you do? Consider an alternative route, namely becoming an IT consultant. But, do you know what it involves? The picture might not be as rosy as some paint it, or as dire as some others claim.
We’ll try to give you a real picture here.
Things to consider before becoming an IT Consultant
- IT Consulting is tough: There’s this whole image of consultants working just a few hours a day, and then living it up for the rest of the day. This isn’t what really happens, though. Consulting is a tough business. Not only do clients expect you to be on call and helpful at odd hours of the day, you might even be working up to ten hours a day, instead of the four you imagined.
And the next time you’re at a party? Somebody is going to ask you why his or her laptop isn’t working properly. You’re going to have to be patient, and explain things well; maintain your rep and all.
- Be ready for trouble: When you’re working on a long, or a difficult or perhaps even an easy project, there are chances of problems arising. Maybe the code you deployed isn’t working as it should. Or maybe the client isn’t happy with your work. Maybe your client is delaying payment. Be ready for anything.
- Clients can be very dissatisfied: Maybe you did your job perfectly, beautifully, faster than you thought. Maybe you were expecting some compliments and great referrals. Instead you got a, “I’m not really happy with what you’ve done.” What do you do? Break out your people skills, and convince the client that you’ve done your job well, and exactly to their specifications. They might even try to get out of paying you. Make sure you avoid this by having an airtight contract.
- Have great people skills: Do you like people, talking to them, charming them into hiring you? Does this sound like your kind of thing? IT consulting might be for you after all. Consulting in any field involves a bit- or even a lot- of schmoozing. In other words, you have to sell yourself better than your competition. You might also have to convince your client why they need an expensive piece of software, and so on.
This not only involves talking like a pro, you have to dress for the part too. Don’t expect people to be impressed with your t-shirt and artfully ripped jeans. Dress well, speak well, and let people know you know your stuff.
- Be punctual: You’d think this one is obvious. But, nope. There are plenty of IT consultants out there who slack off. Make sure you stick to your project timeline as much as possible. If any issues arise, deal with them swiftly. Submit reports, updates, and/or surveys on time. You are being paid for your knowledge in a particular niche; don’t insult yourself and your client by doing sloppy work.
So there you go. The five things you need to keep in mind before embarking down the IT Consultant road. There’s definitely a demand for talented IT consultants, especially by small and medium businesses, who can’t afford a proper tech department. So good luck, and may the force be with you.