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becoming a consultant

By dalis_crib ·
Hi,

I'm 20 and in my final year of my degree "Internet Computing". I have good all round knowledge of IT systems, but my main focus is in web development.

I noticed the other day whilst job searching, the high salaries for IT Consultant jobs, Im starting to think about going into that field,

I was wondering, what exactly are the job specifications for a consultant - are they different for each company?

Would I also needed to of obtainted to business related degree? Can any IT consultant here also let me know what their job is like, the good side the bad?

Thanks your your help!

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First requirement is on the job experience

by stress junkie In reply to becoming a consultant

I'd be surprised if you could jump staight into consulting. The high salaries that you saw are offered to people who have a lot of on the job experience. While you may not yet understand this almost all employers know that the first two or three years of any IT career are spent learning how to do the job.

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Build a base

by talentonloan In reply to First requirement is on t ...

The responses here hit the mark in that experience is needed as a basis of trust and professionalism in business relationships - key commodities for any consultant to have. But it also depends on your character and personality too. If you are wise (despite your young age) you will learn a lot in positions working with other companies for a while (maybe not that long), develop good listening skills (key to consulting), technical skills, and business management skills. You may be able to branch out (check with HR on this relative to conflict of interest) doing some small independent stuff as well, and learning whether or not you want to go the independent route.

It is good to consider these things while you are young, and can put in some 20 hour days without worrying that you are missing your kid's soccer game, and build a lifestyle and skill set that will best acccomodate the gifts you have received from your Creator.

tol

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Experience is a must

by speeder-net In reply to First requirement is on t ...

The nature of consulting is that you hired to provide a service based on experience. If you are not bringing years of experience and expertise to the table you are an employee, and considering you are a recent grad, likely one that requires considerable training.

There are many attractive reasons to entering into a career in consulting, but you need to earn your stripes so to speak before anyone is going to give you a contract.

Start small and dream big.

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Quick overview

by Trek05 In reply to First requirement is on t ...

You can read hundreds of books on how to drive, but that doesn't mean that when you get behind the wheel you are going to be a professional. Experience will come first in the IT field. Learning to deal with real-time situations, and demanding issues comes with time. Learning how to incorporate technology into a business, while driving down costs, and increasing efficiency will make you a valuable consultant.

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Too early

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to becoming a consultant

a consulatnt is expected to be the fished article, not only some one who has the skills but has a lot of experience applying them. Past successes are what generates the level of trust required to spend a lot of money on you. No past successes, no job and no money. Get yourself in on the ground floor either permanent or contract web developer/design. See if you can pick up a business qualification while you are doing it, then you'll be able to sell what skills and experience you do have in terms that those who may consult you in the future will understand.

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Have to agree with that

by Oz_Media In reply to Too early

Myself, I managed to get started with no cert at all, and now I have a cert (not that I persued one)it makes VERY little difference to my workload.

My work comes from people in business who trust me. I have never even been asked what certs I hold, or what degrees I do or do not have. Certs have not helped ME at all, in any way.

I get new clients by word of mouth, I have clients that woul duse me no matter what I did, IT, Sales, Marketing etc. They just want me on board because I have a good reputation.

That reputation took be the best part of 20 years to develop though, through MANY jobs in MANY different fields. Now I have proven my drive and capabilities, people look for me.

If I had started out, even with several degrees and many certs, I'd have been SOL, no go, nobody would even look at me.

In consulting, successful consulting anyway, you need a reputation built from experience. You need to know people in business who will use your talents, you need to work your contacts. COntacts take years to develop into sources that will trust you and hire you for just about anything you offer them.

You probably CAN just fly it on a wing and a prayer, but eventually a lack of experience will catch up with you. In fact, I find the single most important key in consulting is your contacts, including DEALER contacts. You need really strong relationships with suppliers, not just aquaintances but everyday contact with the C-Level employees of those companies, to have them work for you insteda of you just becoming a consultant/dealer. My prices aren't beaten by my competition, software and hardware can be provided for less than much larger dealers that offer the same products. Once your costs are controlled and competitive, you can earn margins that will ensure profitability. If not, it's just a strugle. This isn't just in IT either, the exact same thing applies when I am restoring/rebuilding cars. People need a damn good reason not to go elsewhere, and 'just because you can' is not good enough.

Not to discourage you, but don't choose a career based on an advertised salary, build your own contact base and you can dictate your salary anyway.

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Absolutely agree!

by BFilmFan In reply to Have to agree with that

Past experience is indicative for future performance!

That should be the motto of EVERY consultant.

You cannot bring value to a client until you have years of successes and failures of projects under your belt. And I've found that it is often the failures that teach us more than the successes we experience. Spending 10 hours tinkering around with an OS issue will teach you a great deal more about the OS than following line commands from a book or a cram course.

And while some interpersonal skills can be taught, a great deal of these are learned from daily interaction with end users, engineers, architects and management. And if you cannot speak to each of these groups, you are a failure as a consultant.

My advice to this young person who is seeking a career as a consultant is to go forth and get as much experience as possible. Take every business and management course that you can, as well as honing technical skills.

In the event the IT field isn't for you, you will have other skills to fall back on. And honestly, money isn't the real motivator to become a consultant. Shouldn't be the motivator to ebcome anything. I've met few people that spent their whole professional career chasing the bucks that was happy.

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What it takes to be a consultant

by dhecksel In reply to becoming a consultant

I'm currently writing an article on this topic,
and started a thread of discussion in the
"AgileModeling" group on yahoo groups. You
may want to look at replies one to two weeks
ago ( mid July ) - consultant was in the title
I believe ( I was soliciting the opinions of
members of that community on the top 5 to top 10
traits of a successful IT Consultant ).

In a nutshell, you need to bring a blend of:

- technical expertise (your degree is a
foundation for this, but IT is a lifelong
learning experience - you really need to
re-invent yourself every 3-5 years)
- interpersonal skills ( if you are a "deep"
introvert by nature, this will pose
a problem. Some "people skills" can be
learned, but if you are what I call a "super
analytical", (deeply dominant analytical
skills at the expense of all else / all
other skills), you may have a problem
- Experience ( technical knowledge is good,
but one is better technically when they
"recognize" a given problem at hand. To do
that recognizing, you not only need the
technical foundation, you need the experience
and wisdom of past similar activities where
you can provide added value (added value
translates into higher pay/rates)

Now, do not be completely discouraged. I would
look at the "big" consulting firms. They often
have excellent training programs for "new"
people where they not only teach their people
technical items, but also consulting skills.
So companies like Accenture, Deloitte, Cap
Gemini (did they get bought?), EDS, even IBM
Global Services has formal programs in place to
bring new people on board into the fold / into
their mold. If you can't get accepted in a
company/program like that, nothing wrong with
not being a consultant, and gaining the experience
and doing some "self teaching" on consulting
skills (there are several good books out there -
start with seven habits of highly effective
people if you have not read that), and give
consulting a go after 3 - 5 years experience.

Consulting is easier to do with less experience
when the technology is new / on the early
adoption phase. Java in 1996-1998 ( there was
no one with "5 years Java experience" then ),
.Net programming in 2002 ( ditto, there was no
one with give years .Net experience then ).
Watch for technology shifts. Getting on the
"early wave" of a significant technology shift
( Java is a good example, .Net is as well ), can
be very rewarding.

Finally, as one gets more into consulting, some
level of business knowledge will be useful to
understand the "round trip" of providing a
solution - from project vision to requirements to
architecture to development to test to deployment
to support ( with project management wrapping it
up ). The vision, requirements, and project
management domains have some required business
knowledge. Even if you wont be doing that job
role perhaps, you will need to know "how to talk
to / communicate" with people in those roles to be
a successful consultant.

Cheers...

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by justin In reply to becoming a consultant

I started out as a consultant 8 years ago; I was 28 years old with 8 years of work experience in a non-related field.
I have no certifications; I believe they have become a crutch for those non-technical people to validate their inability to properly interview you as a technician. They have some value to certain jobs, none that I have held though. (Know your limitations!)
I was an employee for a while, 3 years, VP level at an international bank. I felt I was too young to settle down and plant roots. I didn?t know enough about IT or management to get in at a full-time position that could sustain my desired lifestyle. I thought I needed to go out and consult to see as many different people and technologies as I possibly could so I would have something big to sell someone on an interview. I could care less if Linux is better than Windows or if the newest version of SQL can process 50 more transactions per second. I am concerned with my career, where is it going, and what I am doing to improve my skills.
I am consulting again and I feel better about myself. I am out actively hunting work and selling jobs anywhere I can. While I am doing this, I think of what I am doing to grow my career and learn about leadership and management for myself. I can tell you it is much more than any co-worker is willing to do for you.
Would I be an employee again? ? Maybe.
Why? - I'll soon reach the point when I can lead the entire team. When I feel I have seen enough of the differences in people and IT to make high level decisions. When I think I actually can be truly happy doing one thing for one person for a long period of time. Then a company can take care of me for a while!

Moral of the story ?
If things seem under control, you?re not going fast enough
? Mario Andretti

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What everyone is saying:

by DC Guy In reply to becoming a consultant

Consulting is something you generally go into when you're older, not in your youth. When people are desperate enough to hire a consultant, they want somebody who's been in the business a long time.

Sure, young people get jobs at "consulting" firms but if you follow them around they're not really doing the same things that we grey-haired consultants do.

And yes, with as many people as there are on this planet there are exceptional ones who can do things the rest of us can't: such as starting their own consulting business and making a successs of it before they're thirty.

But most of us are not quite that exceptional. We're in a pretty elite group as it is, with the IQ to understand IT well enough to make a career of it and the temperament to make that an attractive career choice. To also achieve the wisdom of an elder without waiting to become an elder is a rare accomplishment.

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