Career Opportunities

A ComputorEdge Column

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On Your Own: Part 1

© Douglas E. Welch 1997

It is a rare computer staffer that hasn't considered joining the growing ranks of consultants now populating so many positions in both corporate America and their own small businesses. The dreams of freedom and a better life for you and your family are definitely a possibility but there are a score of items to consider before you make that great leap.

When?
Regardless of the position, many people will find they are dissatisfied with their current position. This can happen for a variety of reasons. In some cases they might even find themselves a victim of downsizing through no fault of their own. It is common for high-tech staffers to consider leaving the rat race of the corporate world behind and striking out on their own. I know, personally, that each time I have changed jobs the thought has occurred to me. Several times it was rejected, mainly because my main career interests were outside of the corporate computing realm. In each case, I returned to another corporate position as soon as possible. I was tired of computer support and training and I knew it. All of you will need to make a similar decision, based on your own life interests.

Preparing the Ground
The most important aspect to working as a freelancer is to lay the groundwork long before you actually leave the cozy nest of the corporate world. Starting your own consulting business will mean having two complete jobs until you can leave your current position. This means evenings and weekends are taken up with planning, marketing and actual consulting calls themselves. This won't go on forever, but it will last for a siginificant length of time and both you and your family need to prepare for it. Your time will immediately become more valuable when you can make a direct correllation between billable hours and the amount of money in the bank.

On Your Own
When you work for yourself you are truly on your own, through the good and the bad. There will be no one there to help you when the big problems arise. There will be no one to take the complaint from the big client. There will be no one there to collect on unpaid invoices. When you jump into the consulting river, you do it alone and you sink or swim by your own wits. To some people this is reason enough never to do it. To others it is a challange to be faced, knowing they will come out of it a better person.

Whatever your decision, it is important to go into this world with your eyes open. Over the next few weeks I will discuss the various elements that go into developing a consulting career. Hopefully, I won't scare you out of your wits. Maybe I'll even convince of few of you that the (consulting) time is at hand.

Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at: http://home.earthlink.net/~dewelch/

He can reached via email at dewelch@earthlink.net

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