When you are talking to friends or meet someone new, a common topic of conversation is your job. The conversation usually goes as follows for me:
Friend – “So, what do you do for work?”
Me – “I’m an IT consultant.”
Friend – “So…… What do you do for work?”
Saying that you are a consultant doesn’t usually mean a lot to people. They imagine a glamorous career where you jet around the country and have all-expenses-paid business trips, but they usually have no clue what you actually do on a day-to-day basis. What we really do depends on what the client needs us to do. On any given client a consultant is supposed to fulfill a different role, whether that is a project manager, systems testing coordinator, or change management specialist. The trick is being able to fully utilize your transferable skills, and to apply what you have previously learned in new and creative ways to your project. But really, how do you sum this all up to a friend? Do you explain that you were a Project Coordinator on one client, and an Oracle systems expert on another? Or do you say that you help to implement software systems? To this day, I don’t think my family even knows what I really do for work. I have tried explaining it a few times, but generally once I start getting a little technical their eyes glaze over (although I did just teach my Mum how to copy and paste the other day, so I don’t expect much from a technical perspective)!
I was sitting here and wondering what I should write about in my blog post and I realized that if my family and friends don’t really know what I do, how would a new grad who is weighing a career in consulting against other options really know what it is all about?
So here goes my attempt at putting together some bullet points about what consulting is to me:
- A constant learning experience – I am whatever the client needs me to be; if I don’t know how to do something the client needs done, I will learn it.
- Analyzing and communicating – No matter the project I am on, the two skills I use the most are analytical and communication skills.
- A constant evolution – Your project might start off in a niche area, and then expand rapidly into other specializations. The flexibility of the people on the project allows for this, and this is what makes things exciting. There is always some new direction you can propose taking a project in.
So at the end of the day, I am back to square one as I still can’t sum up my job in a concise sentence. However, let’s leave it at this: I truly enjoy what I do, and that’s what counts!