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OT: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?

by flyingmoose (Priest)
on Apr 16, 2004 at 22:32 UTC ( #345897=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Fellow monks, I need your spirtual advise, I feel I am straying from the path and need a course correction. What path to do you ask? Well, sanity.

I can't stand corporate america and would like some advice on starting out working for myself. I'm a young guy (25), currently employed, have 3+ years experience, so I'm not quite like merlyn and can say "I wrote THIS!", but hey, where do I go from here to get there? What follows is rantish, but anyhow I at least wanted to type out my feelings somewhere, least they just stay in me... maybe others have felt similarly...

As I have complained about before (and this hurts worse since I hate complaining), I work in a company very reminicent of the movie "Office Space", but I am growing to think that all cube organizations are the same way. I've been trying to break out for some time, even considering taking a considerably pay cut, doing short term contracts, etc, all to get rid of a fairly decent (~$65k/yr) position. The hard part is (besides the team being rather cliquish and making me into a one-man show), that I really can't justify any of my insanity.... in fact, it's just a buildup of random things, the illogicality sic of corporate decisions, managers being clueless delegaters without spine, and the endless commandments from above. Sometimes I feel like a dog that is been beat down too many times and thus shrieks away from anyone who comes close, and other times I feel that this beating down is going to cause a good dog to suddenly snap. I can't put my finger on whether it's just this corporation, or whether certain people aren't meant for corporations. I'm 25 and have been here a good 3 years. Internships before have been ok (elsewhere), but still, I feel the same about cubes. I long for being outside among trees, or at least, maybe, an office with a door. Point is, I should be apathetic, but it's against my nature. I want to work on quality products in an organization that respects me, and umh... I really think corporate america is more like feudalism, full of constant backstabbing and politics, where no one is really your friend at all. Where is the love?

This part hurts of course, since I'm a top-notch coder, I like people, and among the right people (those that REALLY care and love the art), I am a great team-mate (and I can lead when needed too). I love to draw on whiteboards, brainstorm, and code up good stuff. But being afraid to answer one's phone late at night is not for me. Being stuck consantly in drudgery isn't either. My release valve to this point has been mountain biking (driving into trees=fun) and attempting some for fun programming, but I really don't want to have to code at night to exercise my brain.

Lately I've been listening to a lot of the Blue Man Group's "Complex" album. The song Persona about sums it up, about not being you anymore based on what working does to you.

Long story short, I have two options -- either quit programming (which I love -- when it's not just making one-line maintaince edits) and find something completely different (apologies to Monty Python) or find a way to work for myself. This is really what I want to do. Often people say they work for themselves when they are contracting, but that's not really it for me, I really want to work completely for myself.

The hard part is, I don't know how to start this, to find clients, or to make something work. I know I absolutely can't sell software, as that model is really a hard push, but I'd like to work for people just like people hire a plumber or an electrician -- that is, the folks come to you, and you work for them, but not in a cube farm. This is, for the most part, consulting. I wouldn't mind short term on-site work, but I'd rather have *clients* than bosses. Yes, I know people think there is little distinction, but I think there is quite a bit.

Power is essentially given from the one to another. I'm tired of giving my managers power to abuse me. And I want out of the rat race...

So, some of you I know have been very successful as independant consultants, and I'd like to know more about how you got started. Really, I can be quite a happy guy, but I feel that covered up, hidden, like as in Persona as I mentioned -- work just affects my brain in ways that it should not, and if I can end this confusion, all the better. Simply put, I want to get my soul back.

Any help in the process of finding clients, finding business models that work, or better yet, getting clients to find you would be greatly appreciated.

I am quite skilled in software analysis, design, and development. Perl, C, C++, Java, Windows, Linux, a lot of network applications experience. I have a lot to offer, I just want to learn how to offer it.

Help??? :)

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Re: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by adrianh (Chancellor) on Apr 17, 2004 at 00:44 UTC
    I know I absolutely can't sell software, as that model is really a hard push

    The bad news is that being a freelance consultant is a hard push too :-) You can look forward to spending a lot of your time marketing yourself and looking for clients. Not to mention all the time, paperwork, legal, etc. that your employer used to do. All this will eat up a third of your time. Nearer half for the first year while you get into the swing of things. Find a good accountant. Find a good lawyer.

    Evil things can happen and, because of your limited resources as an individual, there is not a lot you can do about it. I've had clients disappear owing me large chunks of cash - and had to just swallow it because chasing the small possibility of them actually paying up wasn't worth the time and money it would have cost me to take legal recourse.

    Now's not the best time in the whole world to go freelance. There are a lot of skilled people out there and pay is nowhere near the levels it was 5-10 years ago. Competition is stiff.

    The other bad news is that clients can be just as bad as the worst management you've every encountered. Clients make just as many seemingly illogical decisions.

    Being a successful consultant is about people skills as much as technical skills. If you cannot communicate well with people without a technical background you're going to hit problems. It can be quite a culture shock. I know a few people who have tried freelancing and not liked this side of it at all.

    As an alternative to consulting you might want to consider finding a smaller company. Working with 10-20 people is very different from working in a large organisation - although it also brings its own set of problems too :-)

    Now the advice / good news :-)

    Depending on your expectations it can be a better life. After four and a bit years of working for myself I'm a lot happier consulting from my nice country cottage than I was being the technical director of an up and coming media company. Do I earn as much as I would have if I'd stayed - nope. Swings / Roundabouts.

    Finding clients is really down to two things:

    1. Knowing people: Network away. A lot of work comes my way through people I've worked with in the past.
    2. Doing something different: Everybody and their pet dog codes in Java - so knowing Java doesn't help you a great deal in finding work. Be good at something different. Have an odd combination of skills that other people don't have. That way clients are more likely to find you.

    Random tips:

    • Being paid by profit sharing is gambling. Never gamble unless you can afford to lose.
    • If a client stops paying, stop working. No matter how reasonably the excuse sounds.
    • Never lie to the client.
    • Find a good lawyer. Find a good accountant (worth repeating)
    • Join a union - but then I'm the pinko-commie liberal type :-) I've found mine useful when dealing with the occasional evil client.
      Excellent feedback, thanks. I am afraid the truth is I'm not marketable, seeing there are tons of people of similar skills on paper ... (<ego>but I doubt they are as sharp</ego>) ... and I'm also too young to command much presence among older businessmen. (Which brings me to my post below about academics and/or research ... I just need to find some outlet, the ratrace is evidentally not compatible with my personality)
        Don't use age as an excuse. I'm 22, and am doing what you want to be doing eventually (my story was similar to yours). That said, my work is not 100% programming, which is great.. because it means I can code in my spare time and still enjoy it. Coding 100% of the time would mean I'd choose other pursuits away from work instead. I was never a good marketer, but I realized I had to learn how to be good at marketing, and good at selling myself, if I ever wanted this to work out. So I've read a lot of books, done a lot of practice, trained, and now I sell myself all the time.. the reward is in the clients you gain. I was once in the position you are now, a good job, nice pay, but I felt the same as you, and so I broke out.. it's important to remain positive, and to be *totally* open to new idea. If you gotta go learn how to hawk your wares like a salesman, you gotta go learn it.
Enjoy what you have, but keep your eyes open.
by dragonchild (Archbishop) on Apr 17, 2004 at 02:01 UTC
    I am also in that process. I am fed up with the uncertainty of software development today, even as an employee. I have 6 mouths to feed, so I need constancy. I also am a bit of a diva, when it comes to my work (whatever that work is). I love the creation side of programming, and I'm really good at it. I love making stuff, whether it's a webapp or bread. Unfortunately for me, the only stuff I can do right now that's creative is webapps, cause that what (almost) pays enough to pay the bills while allowing me to live in central/western Ohio (stepchildren). If I could be a teacher or an artist and still support my family, I would.

    So, I started putting my feelers out for consulting. Right now, I have one semi-regular tech support gig for a local Remax agent. I occasionally do some contract development, though I have no gigs in that right now. But, until it takes off, I pay the bills.

    I hate the politics and the rat-race. My wife wants me to change careers more than I do (which is impressive), but it can't happen ... right now.

    I'm 28. You're 25. We have 60+ years, at least 40-50 of which will be productive. (Some guy at 104 finally retired ... think about that.) You've been working for 3-5 years, I've been working for about 8. Together, we've consumed some 14% of our total career time. We have plenty of time to work it out. Really. And, spending another year or two paying the bills until you have a solid gig to move to ... that's ok. That's really ok. Spend that time writing your book, learning an instrument, meditating, training for the Boston Marathon ... whatever you want to do! It doesn't matter, just so long as you enjoy it. Me? I'm happily raising a family and enjoying the first 2 years of my marriage. I'm starting to go back to exercising (hah!) and pretending I'll eventually write my book and start to meditate. But, I'm happy(ish). Would I be happier as a best-selling author working from home? Sure. Am I happier than someone who puts doors on Hondas? What do you think?

    We are the carpenters and bricklayers of the Information Age.

    Then there are Damian modules.... *sigh* ... that's not about being less-lazy -- that's about being on some really good drugs -- you know, there is no spoon. - flyingmoose

Re: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by mjeaton (Hermit) on Apr 17, 2004 at 03:00 UTC
    I've been self-employed for almost 3 years. I left my last W2 position with *nothing* in the pipeline. By luck, I got a call the next day to do some sub-contracting work. That paid the bills for about 18 months and then it started to trickle off.

    It was at that point when I realized that I really need to worry about keeping the pipeline full and that I couldn't rely on a single source of income. I started hitting up friends, acquaintances and former bosses. Before long I had scored a couple of good gigs.

    I now try to spend some amount of time each week on making sure the pipeline is going to remain full. I joined a professional association so I could make contacts outside of my local area.

    During my short time as a self-employed consultant, I have managed to build a house, buy a new SUV, bring a second child into the world and lead a relatively stress-free life. I will say that when times are lean (November - January have been consistently slow times), I think about trying to find another W2 job. As time goes by, I have learned to make sure extra $$$ is sitting in the bank.

    As someone else mentioned, a good accountant is great resource to have. I'm always getting his advice on things like incorporating, expenses, etc.

    So, to find clients, I'd recommend letting friends, family, former professors, old bosses, etc. know that you're looking to become an indepedent. Get your name in front of people...make sure they remember you the next time a project comes up and they need help.

    Also...I make it a rule to NOT work on hardware issues. I'm a software guy...if someone needs their printer fixed, they can find someone else (or better yet, let me find someone for them).

    Hope that helps.

Re: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by stvn (Monsignor) on Apr 17, 2004 at 04:08 UTC

    flyingmoose, I feel your pain, I really do. I have been where you are many times. I was in NYC during the "boom" years and opted to stay away from the small dot-coms, and go work at large ad agencies, who were desperate to keep employees and paid really, really well. I bounced around through 3 of the top agencies in the city, and made many connections, the creative directors loved me because my HTML/DHTML looked exactly like their photoshop documents. But in the end, the corporate cubicle world got to me (and the advertising world too, but thats another story). Long story short, the towers fell less than a mile from my office and I decided I had had enough. I stuck around for a few more months, to save money, moved out to the burbs, and my wife and I had twins (well honestly she did most of the work), then I quit my job. It was probably one of the dumbest things I have ever done.

    Now I still had alot of connections around town, and I did a few small jobs here and there, but it was really just more of the same. The only difference was that I knew it would be over soon, which was both good and bad. In the end, I lucked out, I got a call from a friend who had his own small consulting company, and I am still here 2 years later. Connections, connections, connections, I can't stress their value enough!

    However, I do not recommend quiting your job now. I do recommend saving your money, and carefully planning your escape. When you are ready, if you feel like you can handle your own business, then go for it, but as others have said, its a lot more work that you might think. Personally I am no good at that end of the biz, so for me it was never really an option. If its not your thing either or you don't feel ready to venture out on your own yet, then shop around to your area for small consultancies. Things are tight now, but you can at the very least get your name and resume in front of them, you never know you might get a call. Also try local Perl Mongers, Linux Users groups, etc. its a good way to make connections with other like minded people, who you never know, one day might hire you. Never be afraid to let people know you are looking as well, people can't read minds ya know. Write some open source software too, upload something to CPAN, join an existing project, whatever. I won't get you a job directly, but it can't hurt, and you never know.

    Your young, I assume single (at least not married), and you have alot of energy, and talent (at least thats the perception I get of you from your perl-monk-persona). Don't let The Man© keep you down! It takes patience and planning to leave cubicle land (and not end up having to come back), and a big fat healthy dose-of-luck/pair-of-balls too. But it is possible!

    Of course, if your willing to move up to NYC, I would do my best to hook you up.

Re: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by McMahon (Chaplain) on Apr 17, 2004 at 02:12 UTC
    OK, you've got serious income. Save it for a while. Then race your bike for a living and work on Perl 6 so you have a future when your knees give out.

    I did it the opposite way. I dropped out of college for the 4th time at age 23 (English/Philosophy major) and spent the next 9 1/2 years making a living playing bass. I got my first full-time 40 hour/wk job *ever* at age 32, writing tech docs for peanuts. I turn 40 tomorrow, and my salary is higher than yours. =)

    You've got time, money, and health. You have more options than you think. Take one of them. Or several.
Re: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by zetetes (Pilgrim) on Apr 17, 2004 at 10:17 UTC
    as McMahon pointed out you have more options than you may think.
    but besides that: my story is quite similar as yours. nearly 24, i worked for a swiss bank (i'm living in switzerland) for 4 years doing some coding. at one point i realized this ain't my life anymore. so i tried to make up my mind, what my further way should be. _after_ getting some perspective i quit the job, went for some travelling to the US (4 months, you guys have a nice countryside over there, even though i would not want to work there, since you have quite a little social security etc.). came back and since then i am studying again (universitiy for applied science). that's the story.

    now. right now, i'm feeling kinda clueless about my future. i feel i'm fed up with the cubicle thing (even though we don't have cubicles over here). but then again i know i better try to find a way to deal with it. since i do not want to live on an alp and eat grass. i thought about making my own business, but _hey_ that's just another kind of cubicle. you'll be stressed. you'll have customers you don't like (and they're the boss). you'll work way to much and won't be in the trees.
    long story short: find a way dealing with it. try to find out what's bothering you the most. is it your colleagues? is it your boss? is it hierarchy in general? is it the cubicle atmosphere? _what_ is it? as soon as you'll get more specific with it, it'll go away and/or you'll suddenly see a way to get away from it. You can't escape your culture but TIMTOWTDI.

    as for me: i'm still studying, concentrating most on the things i like there. besides that i'm doing some aikido (TIMTOWTDI is the key there too). living in a big house. doing lots of cooking and gardening. having some freelance things to do to get some money to live with.
      That part about living on an alp and eating grass doens't sound that bad really. Well, if I were a goat. Do you know someone that can turn me into a goat? :)
        yeah, maybe if you don't eat but smoke enough of it? ok, bad joke.

        but besides bad jokes: i would actually appreciate living on an alp. but i'd need a highspeed internetconnection to there then...
Re: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by blakem (Monsignor) on Apr 17, 2004 at 18:25 UTC
    I'm currently in a job that I love (small startup doing extreme programming in perl) but I've been at places exactly like what you describe. I recently finished reading a book that I wish someone had pointed out to me back then -- The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactics for an Imperfect World, by Christopher Duncan. It gives a ton of helpful advice for programmers that are stuck in the frustrating world of Corporate America. The author got the book deal after writing an online weekly column on similar topics.

    Here is a snippet from "Optimize your Meetings" which shows his style and point of view.

    I'm sure there are very few of us in this business who haven't grumbled on occasion that it seems like all we ever do is sit in endless, pointless and unproductive meetings, with little being resolved beyond when the next meeting is and who buys the donuts. Even so, it is impossible to bring software to life and to market without them. There are many stages in software development including requirements gathering, design, implementation, testing and even the occasional food fight. All of them require meetings.
    I think I can help get you in and out in time to actually get some coding done. Who knows, you might even finish up in time to catch a ball game after work.

    So my advice is to either find a place that works better for you (thats what I wound up doing) or read the book and make your current situation better. Good luck.

    Shameless Plug: If anyone wants out of the rat race and is living in Silicon Valley, drop me a line. We are hiring and its an incredibly fun place for a programmer to work.


Re: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by zentara (Archbishop) on Apr 17, 2004 at 13:55 UTC
    You are lucky to still be young and starting out.

    My advice is "marry a girl whose daddy has a company that needs an IT department".

    Seriously. In the current economy you need to have connections, or be really, really good, like Merlyn, Abigail, et al.

    Where do those connections come from?

    1. Marry into it.

    2. Start your own export-import or data-mining service

    3.Get hooked in with the military or government. Security and surveillance are the coming thing. Get good with cameras and motion detection, and programs to auto-monitor them.

    I was just listening to a report on NPR on search engines, their future and their failures. The gist is that engines like Yahoo or Google don't do much for you, they can't search newspapers, court records, etc. So a new wave of "pay-for" search engines is about to emerge. Maybe go around to different newspapers and offer to setup on pay-for online search of their archives. There are good possibilities of being bought out by bigger fish, once you are up and running. Then you can retire. :-)

    I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. flash japh
      Seriously. In the current economy you need to have connections, or be really, really good, like Merlyn, Abigail, et al.
      First, thanks for the compliment.

      Now for the bad news. Even being "really good" isn't enough. I lost money three quarters out of four for the past two years. My credit cards hit their maximum point in December, and in January I had to pull out $15K from my retirement account (penalties ouch ouch) just to cover current bills.

      And even in the midst of that down cycle, I still knew it was important to continue to advertise and devote time to being visible in places like monks and usenet. That's why I ran that big party at OSCON last year, borrowing some of the last money I had available. Because, early this year, we landed an in-call client (them calling us out of the blue) that has given us about $100K in revenue so far, and continues to book classes until well into September at the moment. Had I not continued to make Stonehenge visible, I doubt I would have gotten that call. It only takes finding one good client like that to pay for a year's worth of advertising and trade shows.

      Being in business is tough. I know a lot more than I did a few years ago, and I can say that holds true for any given three year window. But I still face challenges up ahead that I'm gritting my teeth about, so it's not all rosy yet.

      -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker
      Be sure to read my standard disclaimer if this is a reply.

      Seriously. In the current economy you need to have connections, or be really, really good, like Merlyn, Abigail, et al.

      Funny, I know alot of really really really (yes 3 'really's) good people who are having a hard time finding work. Skill and talent are only part of the game, connections (as you point out) are very important, but visibility is key to the success of all of them. As merlyn points out in his response above, if your not getting the name out there people won't know to call you. Abigail-ll is a well known and respected voice because alot of what he says is right on the money, but the odds work for him cause he posts a lot here! Not all of them are gems, but that doesnt matter, as we all have our our good days and bad days, the point is he is out there and making himself visible and memorable. Talent is (unfortuantely) just not enough, you have to get the word out. This is Marketing 101, and the reason why we listen to flat records (Edisons cylindricals were superior, but he sucked at marketing) , watch VHS tapes (*sigh* poor BETA-MAX) and use Windows (Nuff Said). Because they had the louder voice, not the better product.


        and the reason why we listen to flat records (Edisons cylindricals were superior, but he sucked at marketing) , watch VHS tapes (*sigh* poor BETA-MAX) and use Windows (Nuff Said)

        *ring* *ring* Hello? Oh, hey, stvn, it's the 80's, they're asking for all their stuff back! ;-)

      4. Make connections at school.
      5. Promote music or bike races or wine festivals.
      6. Be a route salesman for cookies.
      7. Be a bartender.
      8. Be a librarian.
      9. etc.

      Make connections by being Out In The World. Find out what you're good at. Find people to do that with. Some of them will pay you. Point yourself to some crazy goal, like being an astronaut or something. You might not get *there*, but you'll sure get *somewhere*-- which is better than being nowhere.
Re: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by flyingmoose (Priest) on Apr 17, 2004 at 01:16 UTC
    The alternate path is ... how can I get more into research and/or academics. I need to analyze that path as well. Either way, I need a serious change of pace.

    Either way, the thing I've figured out is I am like the beaver who, if he does not chew, will have his teeth grow into his head and kill him. Chewing, for me, is being able to express creativity, to learn, and to evolve... or at least, to express control over what I do. Either way, I need to find me a log to gnaw on.

      I thought about that too when I was looking for an out. Not having a degree myself made that difficult, but a good friend of mine recently lucked out. He has a Masters (in Voice Performance, go figure) and recently took a few graduate courses in CS at Columbia, and managed to make an impression on his teachers. Mostly because he is both really smart, a really good coder, and he was the only one in his class who included a full test suite will all his assignments. Before the semester was up, he was offered a position as a research assistant, and is now going to get his PhD pretty much for free. The key to this whole thing was being both in the right place at the right time, but also sticking out as being smart and talented.

        Of course any economist would point out that his PhD isn't free, its cost is his opportunity cost for whatever else he could have done in that time.
      flyingmoose, I work in a research unit at a major University. We have a "Scientific Programming Group" (of which I am not a member) and we also have the usual network and computing support group. The employee turn-over in the latter group is high and in the former group it is very low. I asked why and was told that the pay scales for the two groups are very similar but the SPG had interesting and challenging work (sometimes too much of it) and probably more respect since the scientists are very dependant on them. The other group is the one people call when something goes wrong. I mentioned the pay was similar, but it isn't very good. What keeps people in the SPG are the intangibles.

      Working at a University might be a refreshing change of pace.

      (so many nodes and so little time ... )

Re: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by Anonymous Monk on Apr 17, 2004 at 18:52 UTC
    • Dilbert-esque corporate life,
    • besides free-lancing,
    • besides going back to school, and
    • besides dropping out,
    there is a fifth option:

    Work for a company that treats employees decently and values what you do.

    These places are rare, but do exist.

    (For just one well-blogged example, read Joel Spolsky's views on hiring and caring for programmers. Disclamer: I don't know Joel personally, and I haven't worked for him, so his writings may all be BS... but to me at least his blog seems sincere and genuine.)

    On a more philosphical note, flyingmoose, kudos to you for actually stopping to think about how you want to spend your time...

    We all have precious few days, and the trick is to spend those days doing what matters most to you (some mix of quality of life, place, salary, meaningfulness of work, nice co-workers, learning opportunities, etc).

    Like HDT said, the art is spending each day so that, when it comes time to die, you don't discover you have not lived.

    Best of luck in your decision, flyingmoose-- may you enjoy nothing but success.

      I just hope that when I die, there will be something meaningful in $@... preferably with a stack backtrace.
      ------------ :Wq Not an editor command: Wq
Re: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by Steve_p (Priest) on Apr 17, 2004 at 13:21 UTC

    I know exactly how you feel. In fact, Office Space got me to quit one job.

    However, back to the real topic. Here's the option that no one seems to be saying. Why jump into freelance at the start? Why not work for someone else as a consultant first? The level of risk is much lower. You can build your network of contacts on the consulting company's dime rather than yours. Then, when you do want to start on your own, you can.

Re: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by valdez (Monsignor) on Apr 17, 2004 at 08:41 UTC

    If you don't like bosses, find partners! Unity is strength.

    Good luck, Valerio

Re: OT: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by Jenda (Abbot) on Apr 19, 2004 at 13:33 UTC

    I can't help you a bit, I know I would not be able to survive as a freelancer being the recluse I am. I just feel like rambling myself.

    When I started working for the current company the Prague office was rather small, some 10 developers, all sitting in reasonable sized rooms (4 guys in each), without excessive quidelines, without too much intervention from the US headqarters ... and then we started to grow. Now I am sitting in a room with 20 other guys (and we have bigger rooms) without even the cubicles, with one wall painted purple, the other orange and the other two creamy, with an ugly monster on the purple wall and another made of styrofoam at the door, with company meetings in the american style, with guidelines written by someone insane ... the company simply went Monstrous.

    I could never understand those people protesting agains McDonalds, but if I look at the awfull purple wall I start to get the point. I just wonder when are WE going to get company uniforms.

    (If you ask why do I stay then ... the salary's good, I've been promoted lately and I'm working on a project that is not really subject to the guidelines and is entirely in my hands. So I do like my job, I just hate the company.)

    Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.
       -- Rick Osborne

    Edit by castaway: Closed small tag in signature

Re: OT: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by perrin (Chancellor) on Apr 21, 2004 at 20:31 UTC
    I remember having a similar freakout a couple of years ago when I was working at a job I didn't like in a really unhealthy corporate environment. I was thinking of getting into a different field, etc. Then I found a better job, and suddenly I was happy programming again.

    There are good programming jobs where you can take pride in your work and be appreciated for it. They are usually in smaller companies, or in small isolated groups within larger companies.

    You could probably make a go of it doing consulting, but the reality is that the people who hire consultants are often big companies with problems. The unhealthy company I escaped from was crawling with consultants. So, if your goal is to escape from corporate america, you're probably better off with a small company doing work you like than as a hired gun working for whoever will pay.

Re: OT: Advice on escaping Corporate America / Starting own consultancy outfit?
by BigLug (Chaplain) on Apr 22, 2004 at 03:00 UTC
    When the bubble burst, the company I was working for went belly-up. I decided that it was the perfect time to become an independent consultant (you know: same time as 7000 other people looking for consultancy work in a business that no loner existed).

    I floundered for a couple of years, trying to find clients, getting a steady stream of clients-who-don't-pay. To pay the bills I got a part-time job as a cashier at the local hardware warehouse and was totally bored.

    Then I gave up. Best thing I ever did. Before I was a developer I was a graphic designer, so I went back to that. I found a job at a local printing company and quickly became the backbone of the company. I not only knew graphic design but was also able to run all the IT. I wrote software for the company to run the flow of projects from the client to the press to the accounts department and back to the client.

    I'm now working full-time writing online software for them. It's a complete print management and procurement system (written in Perl) with full PDF artwork creation. It's so much better than the old cubicle job because I am the entire IT department. I don't go to meetings, the management respect me, and I go home happy.

    So my advice? Someone said to marry a girl whose dad needs an IT department. That's some great advice right there. Although maybe don't marry a girl to do it. Just find a company with no IT department who you can do some other work for, then make their life better by doing some development work for them. Eventually you'll probably find yourself in a development role, but without the headaches of Office Space.

    That way, you feel like an independent consultant, but have the guarantee of a permanent paycheck.

    "Get real! This is a discussion group, not a helpdesk. You post something, we discuss its implications. If the discussion happens to answer a question you've asked, that's incidental." -- in clpm
Setting up your own business
by jarich (Curate) on Apr 20, 2004 at 10:02 UTC
    Since this is a regular topic, I've created my own meditation in answer to this one. You can see it over here.

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