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Eek! Starting as a Regular Full-Time Employee

Well, I jumped into the career deep end last week.  I started my first-ever job as a regular full-time employee.  This week contained a mixture of emotions for me: scared, nervous, but overall - EXCITEMENT!  It's been a long road, but I'm very happy with where I've come and where I'm going.

I started with a consulting company right out of college.  Back then, graduating with a computer science degree pretty much meant you knew a little bit about a lot, but had no deep knowledge in any area.  So working on a little bit of everything to gain some knowledge in a consulting company seemed like a perfect fit!  I still remember during my interview, the interviewee said "You'll be assigned a project over the weekend, buy a book on the technology, and by the time you arrive on Monday, you need to be an expert".  While we all know that won't exactly work, I was able to learn SO much by hopping around and trying different technologies, industries, and systems.

While trying out different technologies, I fell in love with data warehousing.  To that end, I then tried my hand at my own business, still consulting, but with more training and mentoring.  I absolutely loved this kind of work, but wasn't a huge fan of the full-time travel or all of the paperwork ;)  I then went back to consulting for a couple of local companies, where I was able to work with many organizations with data, without the travel or paperwork.

So... after ten years of consulting, why did I give it up?  Truthfully, I'm ready for a change.  While it's fun to bounce from organization to organization, there's always that dichotomy between "the client" and "the consultant".  And I don't blame either side for thinking that way.  Consultants provide a great service for organizations that don't have the resources (time, people, money, etc.) to do it themselves.  At the end of the day, a consultant's number one duty is to their company, whether that is looking for additional sales or is eventually leaving the project to move onto the next.

All that being said, I'm off to start my new adventure!  I'm a data architect for a firm based in Richmond that handles chemicals and manufacturing.  I get to help them consolidate their data in a data warehouse and hopefully learn a bunch in the process... I also need to learn how to be a regular full-time employee.  Do you have any advice for me?


Unknown said…
I also recently made the change, and my suggestion is to just be yourself. If you've been successful as a consultant, you already have the technical and personal skills. The only suggestion I have is to be patient. Verrrry patient. Everything moves slower as a FTE. And a LOT of times, it moves in the wrong direction, but if you're patient and pick your battles wisely, you'll be able to hopefully find some satisfaction with the work you've done. You also have to be patient with other FTE's who haven't experienced the consulting life. Their reality is going to be different than your reality, but with some effective interpersonal skills, you can become a mentor and mental change leader within your group/organization, but it takes time. Consultants think of "gigs" and 3-6-12 month engagements. FTE's think of retirement and 30 years with the company, blah blah blah. It's a different mindset.
Unknown said…
Congratulations! Good to try something new.

The comments from David are good advice. The only thing I can add is that just because you're an employee doesn't mean you have to give up all of what made you good as a consultant or what made consulting fun - those qualities can change the culture, though slowly sometimes!
Tim Mitchell said…
Good luck, Jessica! It's definitely different working as an FTE, but it can be a refreshing change of pace. I'm sure you'd do well.
Bill Anton said…
@David - that's some pretty solid advice.

@Jessica - very interesting change...mine was the complete opposite (FTE -> consultant) and couldn't imagine going back...please keep us posted on the adjustment with periodic updates ;-)
Anonymous said…
I've heard it is a scientific fact that the opinions of outside experts from far away lands are trusted more readily than internal hands on deck. You may find you were able to steer the ship more easily as a consultant, even though your ideas are exactly the same.

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