Being a consultant can be a lot of fun. You constantly get to work on new and exciting projects. You have the opportunity to make a real contribution to your client’s business. You even get a degree of control over you ultimate destiny. It is not necessarily an easy road to walk but it definitely has its rewards.
Not everybody is cut out to play in this arena. It is not really a question of talent. The truth is; in most fields talent is not really the qualifier: just look at our political class. The real qualifier is just showing up day after day and for some people that can be a real battle. Internal dialog saying “I suck”, “I’m not good enough to be here”, “They’re going to find out that I suck and then fire me” and so on does nothing to help you and none of it is true. The problem comes about when that internal dialog drives a person to action.
In one case it drove a person to quit a project just as things were getting interesting. He told his client that he couldn’t handle it and quit. Just like that. He did complain a bit ahead of time, but nobody took it that seriously. If developers aren’t whining about things they are either busy actually working or asleep. So nobody took the whining seriously. All the same he quit; gave the manager his two weeks notice and began wrapping up his affairs.
The head slapper here is two fold. First he quit without having already arranged a new project and second he quit in middle of a project. The second problem is the bigger of the two it just isn’t as immediate. The first problem though is a bit dumb. If you know that your project is wrapping up you start a search for the next one. Six weeks is a lot of lead time and enough to ensure that you’ll have a gig well in hand when your current one wraps. Recruiters will take care of this for you, but it takes a bit of management to get what you want out of them.
Quitting in middle of a project though is huge. In very simple terms: Don’t ever do that! It will eat at you like cancer. By quitting in middle of a project you can pretty much write off that client forever. They won’t trust you again for any reason. Second, people in IT get around and so does your reputation. The manager you just quit on in a year or two will be in a new company that you want to work for. Guess what happens when you name comes up? Your resume goes in the trash can. You might be the hottest Silver Light developer in four states and it won’t matter.
The lesson is this: if you sign up for a gig you work it until it is done or the client cancels the project. Your word, a signature on a contract, has to mean something. Quitting in middle of a contract is an indication that your word can’t be trusted. A consultant that can’t be trusted is an unemployable consultant.