In my former life as a full-time employee, I had the pleasure of working alongside several talented IT consultants. They had the opportunity to develop a resume full of fascinating projects and their industry knowledge was vast. When the time eventually came for me to seek new professional challenges, I knew I wanted to work as a consultant. I was thrilled at the opportunity to channel my aptitude for project management and passion for learning in a new role as an IT Project Manager Consultant at Digineer.
Here are 4 things I learned as a consultant in my 20s:
1. Turns out I don’t know everything
Confessions of a true know it all: I DO NOT know it all. Prior to consulting, I worked in the same organization for six years and developed robust knowledge and a skill set for executing projects in that environment. I was positive I could handle anything. Turns out, that pocket of knowledge does not compare to the wealth of process, procedure and circumstantial experience I would gain in my first year as a twenty-something consultant. Working alongside some of the most brilliant and capable people at Digineer has been an eye-opening learning opportunity. I do not know it all. It’s in writing, I can’t take it back.
2. Working from home is not as great as it sounds
Working from home equals PJs and Netflix, right? Wrong. In many industries these days, employees are granted some opportunity to work remotely. To cut down my travel time, I work from home two days a week. However, as an extrovert, working from home can feel quite isolating and de-energizing. I found myself craving the office environment. There is a lot to be said about getting up and heading to the office for face to face meetings, impromptu working lunches and being available for those opportunities to meet and connect with your client.
3. How to develop trust as a young professional
How does one develop trust? Do amazing work. Then repeat. It can be a challenge to be productive while you’re the ‘new kid.’ As a twenty-something, I also want to be aware of how my perceived lack of experience impacts my client’s trust in me. To combat all of these elements:
- Get to know the culture. Take the opportunity to pick the brain of a teammate and be keenly aware of norms around you.
- Nurture your new network. Develop relationships with those both on your team, and off, as organically as possible. A good project manager is only as strong as her team.
- Dive in and help move the project or team forward. Be a trustworthy team member and demonstrate your value. Then repeat.The art of balance
I keep myself quite busy. Beer tastings, hikes, shopping, professional development, work, and more fill any given week. As a consultant, my job includes managing my workload, my professional goals, as well as my contributions to my firm. Digineer provides its consultants with an approach that allows me to plan and balance my contribution to all three areas. I document my goals for the year and create a roadmap for achieving them. I can’t do it all. My roadmap encouraged me to cut out what doesn’t provide value and keep only those activities that energize me and help me reach my personal and professional goals.
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