A Guide to Consulting and Freelancing as a Computer Science graduate

If you are looking for a guide to consulting and freelancing as a Computer Science graduate, then you are probably trying to decide your next step. You are probably trying to decide whether or not to create your own business or to get a full-time position in a prestigious company and begin earning a handsome salary.

Given your unique skill sets, it will actually be quite easy to set up a consulting or freelance business. You can do this as a part-time or full-time career. As a part-time choice, it would be a way to make some extra money while still drawing on the benefits of a regular. As a full-time choice, it would be a way to be your own boss and only work on projects that you enjoy.

As a self-employed person, you can gain experience, check out the opportunities available in a wide variety of companies, and network with others. You may decide that you like this independent lifestyle so much that you are not willing to give it up for the security of a full-time job. Alternatively, it might just be an adventure until you find just the right company to join.

Learn More about Consulting or Freelancing as an Income Model

Ideally, your first step should be to study how to set up a consulting or freelance business. This will help fill in many gaps on exactly how to set up a profitable business, including just setting up a part-time business.

Numerous resources are available to provide detailed business guidelines. For instance, many inexpensive but high-quality books are available on Amazon’s Kindle on how to set up a consulting or freelance business. While these books don’t specifically talk about the technological fields, they do provide useful business ideas on incorporation, taxation, paper work, hiring others, and marketing your business.

Additionally, after setting up your business and deciding that you like working for yourself, you can always take business classes at a local community college or sign up for a seminar on starting a profitable small business.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Consulting or Freelancing

Like anything else in business and life, the idea of working for yourself is suitable for some people but not others. Let’s look at five advantages and five disadvantages to see if striking out on your own is something that you want to do.

Advantages

1. Freedom to set your own time, conditions, and lifestyle.
2. Exposure to a wide variety of projects that will create excellent skills sets, as well as a great resume.
3. No cap on how much you can earn. If you cannot handle all the work yourself, you can always outsource it or hire other people to work for you.
4. Unlimited opportunity to grow your business and career as you please.
5. Earn extra income whenever you need it for special high-ticket purchases. Simply find work that will pay for what you want to buy or develop new projects that create residual income.

Disadvantages

1. You have to become very disciplined and an expert at time management.
2. It can often be lonely, as you will often work alone or in an office where you are not part of the staff.
3. You need to be willing to get good at business, including learning how to structure a business, negotiate a project, market your brand, and manage your income and expenses.
4. You will have none of the traditional security of a regular job.
5. You may not get steady work, but experience feast or famine cycles.

What Type of Work is Available?

Here are some examples of freelance work companies may outsource:

  • WordPress Development
  • iOS mobile iPhone apps and games
  • ASP.NET Development
  • Javascript
  • Software Development
  • Business Process Management
  • Application Integration Development
  • Rails program
  • Graphic design
  • Technical support
  • Technicians
    • Where is Work Offered?

      There are three ways you can find work: directly, indirectly, and through networking.

      A. The Direct Method using Freelance Job Sites

      Examples:

      * Elance (www.elance.com)
      * Guru (www.guru.com)

      As a freelancer you have the option of having a free or paid membership. While a free membership will allow you to test out the system and get a few clients, a paid membership will allow you a platform to develop a great profile and list of satisfied clients.

      Here people are looking for consultants and freelancers. Employers are seeking, hiring, managing and collaborating with skilled freelancers. There are as many as 100,000 jobs available each month. Simply pick a job you are interested in doing, then email the employer explaining why you are the best person for the job. If they decide to hire you, you will work out a plan with them. These websites work on an escrow system. This means that money is set aside for you when you accept the job and then delivered to you when you complete it. If there are any disputes, the website will arbitrate.

      B. The Indirect Method using IT Job sites

      Examples:

      * Computer Jobs (www.computerjobs.com)
      * ComputerWork (www.computerwork.com)
      * Computer Tech Jobs (http://www.computertechjob.org)
      * Dice (www.dice.com)
      * TechCareers (www.techcareers.com)
      * JustTechJobs (www.justechjobs.com/Jobseekers.asp)
      * Technology.Jobs (technology.jobs)
      * KForce ( http://www.kforce.com/JobSeekers/Technology/Tech_IT_jobs/Infrastructure- Jobs/Computer-Technician-Jobs)
      * Pathways to Technology (http://www.pathwaystotechnology.org/jobs/index)
      Tech Centric: (http://www.tech-centric.net)

      These are regular job boards, but focused on I.T. You upload your resume so recruiters can find you. You can also get jobs by mail or you can do a search.

      Although these offer full-time or part-time work, they offer important leads. In your application state that you would like to work remotely as an Independent Contractor. Three positive things may happen. One, is they like the idea of outsourcing the work as it saves them money. Two, they have another job that they have not advertised that would perfectly suit your qualifications. Three, they pass your name on to a colleague who needs what you have to offer. Although this is an indirect approach, many consultants and freelancers have hit found some great clients this way.

      C. Networking

      Additionally, jobs are advertised on more general websites like Craigslist, Meetups, LinkedIn, and so on. But there are no escrow systems in place to protect you if someone hires you but does not pay. So use this last method with some caution. Sign contracts and ask for payment ahead of time or at least partial payment before you start.

      Naturally, you can also use offline methods by joining the Chamber of Commerce, joining business groups, doing breakfast power meetings, and so on.

      An Entrepreneurial Path

      Ultimately, deciding whether or not to become a consultant or freelancer depends on your temperament. The more outgoing you are, the more you like to pick your own projects, the more you like to decide your own destiny, and the more you like to make sales and negotiate contracts, the more the idea will appeal to you. It can be rewarding if you like the idea of doing everything your own way. It is the entrepreneurial path, one full of adventure and grand rewards.