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Leave full-time for large consulting firm?

By gmiha15 ·
Hello, I've working in software and database development primarily on the Microsoft platform for about five years now. I have worked for an ISV, done some independent contracts, and am currently employed full-time by a large financial organization.

My current job is very stable(at least for the next year or two) and the pay is good, if not great.

I currently have an offer at a big 4 consulting firm in the technology division doing similar work. It's a senior position, but there is essentially no salary difference from my current job. The base salary is a little more, but my current employer offer an ESOP, which will essentially make total compensation very equivalent.

I have been shopping around carefully for other opportunities, due to the usual complaints about working internally to an IT department: slow paced work, unchallenging development projects, process, etc. etc. I truly feel I am coasting in a job, and perhaps a career, that I do not find rewarding anymore.

Generally speaking, I am a motivated person who wants more out of a career than a paycheck. So, I'm wondering if working for a large firm may offer a more rewarding environment, or is it more about politics and BS? I am leaning towards sticking it out at my current employer until something better comes along, but I am extremely concerned that I would be turning down something that would be good for my career. Also, considering the fact that I feel that I was not offered more salary is a red flag for me, but salary is not the bottom line for me these days, finding a better, more challenging and rewarding environment is.


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Then Make the Move

by JimHM In reply to Leave full-time for large ...

You answered your own question - If you don't feel challenged - rewarded - productive in your position then it is time to move.

As you said "I truly feel I am coasting in a job, and perhaps a career, that I do not find rewarding anymore" = then you answered your own question - get up - stand up - walk out - take the risk - and try the otherside of the street... If you depart on good terms you will always be invited back.

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Ask yourself some questions

by djb In reply to Then Make the Move

There a downsides and upsides to working for a big 5 consultancy. You will probably have to spend a lot of time travelling, and this may sound glamorous, it usually isn't - you have no control over it, and as you're the rookie, you'll start out being sent to the places no one else wants to go.

Seondly, you have to be far more commercially focussed. In internal IT, your role is to serve your internal customers, but as a consultant your principal role is to make money for your employer. True you have to serve customers to do this, but you have to be very commercially aware to succeed - if this isn't you, this could make you miserable.

But if you are ambitious, the upsides are potentially far higher as a consultant than in internal IT. You can gain a lot of experience from different client engagements and grow. And if you ever go back to an internal IT function, you will do so with far better understanding.

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Why not go independent?

by bpday In reply to Ask yourself some questio ...

I agree with djb@ovum...if you work for a Big 5, they own your body and soul. You'll be working a trillion hours and will be on the road CONSTANTLY. Travelling for a Big 5 will not be fun. You won't be going anywhere good and even if you do get stationed somewhere good, you won't have any time to enjoy it.

Also, what always bugged me was that I was billed out at about 3+ times what I made in a day. I decided to go out on my own. I cost a lot less to my clients than a similar person through a Big 5 and I get to keep all of my bill rate!

Also #2, when I went to one of the Big 5, I thought that I'd be working with superstars...kinda like going to the Harvard/MIT of tech consulting. I was not impressed. Most of the people are completely average but their bill rates are off the charts.

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Ditto on #2

by asheehy In reply to Why not go independent?

I was an independent for 3 years and it was great. I had ultimate control over the solutions I supplied and chose my customers.

I took a job in January of this year with a big 5 because;
1. I needed a mortgage
2. I wanted to work with some superstars
3. I wanted a big 5 on my resume
4. I knew if things turned a certain way, there would be great oppurtunities.

Well, everything has worked out great with the exception of #2. The majority of people I have worked with so far are border line competent. Every so often I have had access to some great talents, but that is not the rule.

Why? The thing to remember about most departments in Big 5 companies is that they encourage everyone to be specialists. They *need* you to fit into one tidy slot. If you don't you may be to difficult to manage. Even if you are working to deliver a holistic solution, you will be very actively encouraged to stay within your strata.

So, if you like to have broad spectrums of experience from nitty gritty technical to having a meeting with the 'C' level executives, a Big 5 may not be ready for you.

Hang tough and find something that you know you really want.

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Hate to disagree, BUT

by oeflynn In reply to Then Make the Move

You said the job role is more of the same - and you are already feeling that your current job is not challenging - so all you would achive by moving is a new name on your reume (for a short period), and then you'll be hankering to leave again!

Stay where you are,, and start really looking for a job that offers you a challenge - then jump in wholeartedly!

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Very well said

by dsandlin In reply to Hate to disagree, BUT

find a position that challenges you before making a move. Don't just move to add a big name to your resume.

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by newsletters.amit In reply to Leave full-time for large ...

I feel it all depend whether ur consulting job profile link with ur long term career goal. For example, if Mr X want to become "Strategic Consultant", say after 15 years from now. I guess then it is a good move. Thus, if you consulting profile comes close to your long term career path then go ahead otherwise stric with where-ever you are at this moment.

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Lateral isn't sideways

by drmemory In reply to Leave full-time for large ...

Job satisfaction is a major consideration in any career decision. If the consulting position will provide you with greater emotional payback, then the monetary factor may not matter.
'Final 4' consulting is not for everyone. You will be judged based on billable hours more than any other factor, a BIG change for someone who has never lived in that world. The more senior you are, the more volative your position, precisely the opposite of what you would expect in your current situation.
I would seriously consider developing a strategy for developing yourself as an internal consulting resource before jumping off to another firm. At least then you will have an idea of what the role is like.

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Think Carefully...

by USC_consult In reply to Leave full-time for large ...

Four years ago, I've done what you are considering. I left my large IT company for a what-was-then-Big6 consulting firm. However, I must advise you to be very mindful of your decision. How you have described your current job could very much be the exact opposite of Big4 consulting. It is true that some of the benefits that consulting offers include a very fast-paced lifestyle, different and frequently challenging projects every few months (on average), and generally better salaries than industry average. However, there are also (potential) pitfalls such as the long (sometimes very long) hours, the frequent travel (80-100%, from short 1-hour flights to 24-hour international flights), and some restricted benefits (e.g. depending on the firm and the undertaken projects, you are restricted to what company stocks you can own or what mutual funds you can have in your 401k). Also, because you would be changing industries, you would be exposed to a different culture and therefore a whole new set of politics.

Consulting has one of the highest attrition rates of all IT careers. I am however still in the consulting firm, as I personally feel that the benefits outweigh the pitfalls. But it is very much a personal decision.

My best advice to you would be to find a trusted friend or an unbiased mentor that has done what you are considering and ask plenty of questions about the job, the lifestyle, the firm's culture, etc. to help with your decision. Consulting is a very challenging career, and if it is truly right for you, a very rewarding one as well.

Good luck.

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You must be able to adapt

by keHogan In reply to Think Carefully...

Things go so fast in the consulting world. Having been in consulting, then moving to a more stable lifestyle at an IT company like yours, then moving back, I have seen many changes.

You will travel. If you want to gain the experience consulting offers, you have to be flexible but make sure the assignment lines up with what your competency interests are or you will end up with a very broad knowledge of things which is good, but makes it harder to sell your story to future project managers.

Your Project manager can make or break your experience as a consultant. You have to be able to network with all types of people as well.

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