Robyn Duns | 09 December 2019
It is a hard decision for anyone in the IT world, whether you’re a Graduate Developer, Senior Developer, or a Technical Lead… choosing your next role is always a tough one.
“Begin with the end in mind” – Stephen R. Covey
When deciding on the next step in your career path, you need to think about what you want to get out of your next role. What are your drivers and motivators? Do you want to learn a new skill or tech stack? Do you want to become more proficient in any particular tech stack? Or, do you simply just want a change of scenery?
Something I come across quite often when speaking with software developers is whether or not they would like to work for a consultancy or product house. Some developers are much more definitive in their direction, and some are more open-minded depending on what benefits they will get out the specific role.
There are two sides to the equation, it is important to weigh up the benefits and potential downsides of working for either.
My take is as follows:
Working for a consultancy comes with lots of benefits, but it also may not be for everyone. For one, it can be a great place to start your career in development. You’re going to be exposed to a large variety of programming languages and frameworks, so it’s a great stepping stone for anyone who may not yet know which language path they’d like to go down.
Working for a consultancy will give you the chance to work on a new and exciting project every few months (depending on the client’s engagement), as opposed to working on the same product/project for the duration of your time with the company. In saying that, there is a certain buzz and pride you will get from seeing a product you build from scratch within a product house, that goes out to market – which can sometimes be achieved at a consultancy assuming if it’s a longer-term engagement.
You’ll have the opportunity to expand your skills into the realm of stakeholder management, as well as increasing your experience within budgeting and financials.
Something that most will have to note is that at times, within a consultancy, you may be limited in choice when it comes to the client or project you will be working on. There may also be some travel required to get to certain client sites.
However, being a consultant means you will be representing the company you’re working for. Therefore, you will need to be highly skilled and trained, with strong communication skills and a consultative engagement style. Consultancies generally provide budget to upskill employees on mission-critical projects, or ones that need a dramatic ramp-up prior to going on-site. This could include paying for things such as AWS / GCP certifications, coupled with your attendance at reputable conferences, etc.
Working for a product house can come with a bit more stress, given you will largely be responsible for the outcome of the product. The quality build / success is contingent upon yourself, and your team! You can’t just do your part and move onto the next project, like you can within a consulting environment. However, product houses do come with a lot of benefits and would appeal to those that prefer full ownership over end-to-end projects.
Often while working for a product house you will be working on a singular product or project, whether that be building it from scratch or adding new features to enhance the creation already in place. This is a perfect opportunity for those who already have a preferred tech stack they would like to work with, as it will give you a great chance at honing in on those skills and becoming exceptionally proficient at them.
Other benefits to working at product house, would be the ability to work remotely, and in general, greater flexibility, in shaping working your own working arrangements. Generally the focus would be more on delivering outcomes, versus the inevitable on-site client consultations required at consultancies.
A point to note is that for those that crave diversity in project work, or constant change, you most likely won’t be given the chance to work on a great variety of projects, which is largely the nature of consulting.
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