Would you rather take a one-year contract or a full-time, long-term position?
For many people in the Silicon Valley, especially those in the technology industry, the answer is “a one-year contract”.
But why on earth would anyone choose a short-term role over a full-time one?
The answer is simple: Exposure. Exposure to the latest technology, exposure to a diversified team of colleagues, and exposure to more opportunities.
Signing a contract over a full-time position is becoming a common choice for many Silicon Valley engineers. While it may not be for everyone, many engineers enjoy the benefits that come with being a consultant.
In 2015, it was expected that the number of companies hiring in the technology industry would increase significantly. With this increase of job openings, many of them contract positions, it may be time for you to consider a role as a consultant.
What is a consultant?
A technology consultant, or a contractor, is brought on by a company to fill a specific need. In the Silicon Valley, companies big and small, will use consultants when they’re creating, planning and developing new products and software. Companies hire consultants for a variety of roles, ranging from software, hardware, to development, testing, or verification.
Consultants are specialized in a particular skill set that may fit a very specific niche. Technology companies typically sign consultants to projects that last from six months to two years. However, it is not uncommon to see short-term projects to develop into roles that last well over two-years.
Many companies blend their consultants with their direct hire employees. They all work similar hours and in shared spaces. Although it has not yet replaced coming into the office, there has been an increase in off-site work that allows for more schedule flexibility. Consultants are paid by a negotiated hourly rate.
When considering whether or not you’d be interested in being a consultant, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons.
Here are some of the unspoken benefits of becoming a consultant…
Actively develop your skill set
Arguably the greatest perk of being a contractor is the ability to specialize your skill set. As a contractor, you get exposure to a wider variety of technology, software, and hardware than you would in staying at the same role for five years. This gives you the opportunity to diversify your knowledge base, and increases your marketability. Keep a running list of the programs you’re familiar with so you can add it to your resume for the future.
As technology continues to innovate, having many short contracts can give you the exposure you need to be successful in the market.
Be part of cutting-edge technology
Think about the latest innovative developments coming out of the Silicon Valley… Google’s self-driving cars, Microsoft’s HoloLens, Tesla’s energy wall, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Apple’s Watch… the possibilities truly are endless. Would you like to be part of that?
Contracts give you the flexibility to have your hands in many different projects throughout the course of your career. This flexibility will allow you the opportunity to be part of many great developments in the technology industry. In the Silicon Valley in particular, there are tons of opportunities in start-ups and Fortune 500 companies to get in on the action.
Autonomous Work Schedule
As a consultant, you get to choose how you want to build your work schedule. Many consultants will take a month break at the end of a long contract to travel, regroup and relax. Others prefer to take many short contracts, one after the other. Some opportunities may afford you the flexibility to tackle multiple projects at the same time. However you want to work your schedule, the benefit is that you get to choose. Consultants typically enjoy this flexibility and autonomy.
Can consulting become a career?
Absolutely. In fact, many of the consultants that work with ERG have enjoyed a rewarding career out of consulting work. Being a successful consultant in the technology is largely dependent on your ability to maximize these benefits. As a consultant, each project you work on is a stepping stone to your next great adventure. Working as a consultant in the technology industry can be both financially and intellectually satisfying.