Hey, new grads: Read this!

You’ve got that shiny new comp sci or engineering degree in your hand and you’re considering your employment options.

Companies have offered attractive starting salaries and sweet benefit packages, but you’re just not sure you want to become employee number 98730452 at XYZ Corporation where you’ll have to prove your chops by writing some weenie bits of code for the first two or three years of your working life until you’re trusted to work on anything meaningful.

These challenges are why many new Computer Science and Engineering grads are considering a consulting job as the first step in their careers.

There are a lot of advantages to working as a consultant. For example, you are essentially the boss of you, which feeds your entrepreneurial spirit and helps you manage your work/life balance. Also, you don’t get locked into doing the same work for the same company for several years; instead, you can try out several types of positions and gain a host of new skills in a short amount of time.

And the money is usually very good.

Plus, you’ll know the work you’re doing is meaningful. You get to choose which client you work with, so you can decide if their mission is something you are interested in. And the client company chooses you based on your skills to complete their project. It’s a win-win.

But there are also differences from traditional employment.

You don’t get paid when you don’t work, which means no paid vacation or holidays like employee 98730452 will be getting at XYZ. You’ll also be responsible for your own retirement. ,. This is why the compensation is typically higher.

And it can be tough to get started. Companies bring in IT consultants because they want experienced hands that can be productive immediately. If you lack work experience, you’ll probably have to take a few entry-level engagements (that’s staffing industry lingo for “gigs”) to get established. This is where the expertise fo a staffing recruiter can help.

Once you get established as a dependable IT consultant, though, you could find yourself in a position to write your own ticket. If you’ve got skills that are in high demand, such as Java, .NET or Pega development, you’ll have your pick of opportunities.

You’ll be able to work on a variety of different projects, and when one engagement ends, you can take some time to chill before signing up for the next one. That can help with the work/life balance.

Or you can jump right into the next engagement, because recruiters keep in touch with you to make sure your assignment is going well and to help you find your next “gig” before your existing project is complete.

IT consulting can be a very attractive option for the right person. If you think you might be that person, consider touching base with good recruiters for more information about the consulting life.