I recently started working as a software development consultant and decided to make this post to give you some insight by talking about the things I like and dislike.
Initially I never thought of working as a consultant, but the company I joined was heavily focussed on my personal growth which is something I valued a lot at the time (and still do at the time of writing this). The salary also helped me to focus on one of my biggest goals which is to save up for my own house.
One of the biggest benefits of consultancy is that you get to learn a lot. You work at a different company and with different teams all the time and each one of them bring their own knowledge to the table.
The people at the company you originally work at also carry a lot of that knowledge and all of that is accessible to you. Most of the time companies share some internal knowledgebase or offer some way to ask questions easily. So whenever you work at some place, you should always be able to ask around when you are stuck.
Being given the space to learn something new is also something I consider a benefit but not everyone will be a fan of this. Sometimes you have to wait some longer time before you get to work at a place and that gives you the perfect opportunity to pick up a new library or language. In my case the company I work at offers some budget to pick up a new course or book and internal projects where you could be free in the tech that you use. For me this is perfect because I always wanted to learn more about DevOps and pick up C# again.
Last but not least: travelling. Since clients can be anywhere, you get to work in different areas. Sometimes close to home and other times a bit further away. I personally like this because I get to explore more bigger cities and places. When I have to drive for about an hour, companies are usually okay with me working from home at times which is something I like.
One of the first things I really had to get used to was documenting the hours I work for clients. I have not found a pattern in this yet but it might not be as bad once I get used to it. At the moment it often feels like a burden.
Additionally I really had to get used to the interview process. Normally you apply for a job, go through some interviews and then you are only left with meetings for the rest of your career. As a consultant, companies want to get to know you before they decide to hire you so it feels like you are going through the same process multiple times. Now this is not as bad as it sounds, you get to learn a lot about questions you need to pay attention to and the details you are given to figure out if there is a mutual fit and this can help in your future career as well.
Another thing that had been on my mind and really showed is that consultancy does not make maintaing friendships easier. You will spend less time with friends because the feeling of working at 2 different places will probably feel like a drag at some point. Then there are also internal activities as a attempt to make you remember where you originally work at. Since most of the time you won’t be working at a place for longer than 1/2 years, there is a small chance you stay in touch with your colleagues at your client’s business after you leave.
It is really hard to tell if you will like but I encourage everyone to give it a try. It does feel like a different lifestyle but eventually you will get used to it. If anything, it allows you to save for a nice future project or goals with the added bonus of a bunch of new knowledge. Try to use the time you spend “sitting on a bench” wisely and learn as much as you can. Or pick up a internal project / try to become a product owner internally.
That’s all! If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.