This blog is the first in a two-part series.
Any college student working toward a computer science degree will undoubtedly experience delusions of fame and grandeur hoping to work for software giants like Google or Apple or even Amazon. The appeal of these companies and environments is absolutely riveting, and you envy your colleagues who manage to land internships with them. Not to mention the huge paycheck that ultimately comes with being employed by these giants.
No one considers or is even told about the massive business of IT consulting. Consulting seems like more of a taboo among the college crowd. The cool thing is to work for a software company that has things like beds for desks and colorful conference rooms with a strictly casual work environment—a place where even owning a suit is heresy.
Throughout school, the common questions are always: Do you want to work for a large company or a startup? Do you want to work purely as a developer or a technologist? Consulting is an afterthought, and the idea of consulting for an insurance company is not even entertained.
No one really tells us what’s out there, so our exposure is very limited. At a time when internships are entirely technical and developmental, students are never really prepared for the working world. And while that may sound more poignant than it actually is, I do believe that this is an issue: We are not adequately prepared for what is out there.
I was tossed into a consulting environment without fully understanding what it really was. Frankly, I was a bit surprised I even considered it. It’s not the “sexy” thing to do, especially consulting for insurance.
Nevertheless, I found a home at X by 2, a consultancy to insurance companies. After two years my takeaway is that while consulting may notlook sexy, it provides me with a breadth of experience and challenges that I could not have even dreamed of going through school.
In school, I expected that I would spend my time writing lines and lines of code. However, my job could not be more different. I am faced with not just coding, but all aspects of agile methodology (another thing we are never explicitly taught). Not only am I coding, I am interfacing with business and translating requirements. I’m learning more about the insurance business, exploring new ways to improve the business model in terms of technology and efficiency.
This is what it means to be a software architect, and I enjoy every minute of it.
The insurance industry is budding from a technology aspect and is trying to play catchup with other large industries. This leads to no shortage of work, which is good news for consulting. There is the dream of job security. I see no drawbacks.
Even though there is no shortage of work, consulting is still a bit of a double-edged sword for a new grad. Consulting is not exactly rife with young blood. Most of my peers claim at least 10 years of experience on me, and leadership takes upwards of 20 to 30 years of experience in IT consulting.
This presents the challenge of where exactly does someone like me belong on the ladder. At first, you sit near the bottom as a developer. You are shielded from the outside world of the business behind layers of bureaucracy and abstraction. There are team leads, dev leads and delivery leads all responsible for making sure that you are on track for developing, but have no interest in putting you in front of the client.
This clear separation between a new developer and client is important and very well-defined. But over time that line becomes less discernible, which then brings about the question of when can this developer become more than just that. There is massive potential for growth, but how fast can that growth happen? What is the path from recent college grad in their first job out of school to a leadership position?
As students we should be pondering questions like this and others. What is consulting? What is the insurance industry? Should I consider a career in consulting? And if I do, what is the potential for growth?
In next part of this series, I’ll discuss some ways a young person might prove him or herself in their roles, and be recognized as somebody worthy of advancement.
Mohammed Hussain is a software developer with X by 2, a technology consulting company in Farmington Hills, Mich.
Readers are encouraged to respond to Mohammed using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at email@example.com.
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