I’ve been consulting in the world of learning and development for about 15 years. I went out on my own in 2010, and have navigated the complex and awesome terrain of a wide range of organizations and industries. When you are a consultant, more of the real world opens up to you. You can focus on one specific industry, or you can be a generalist and use your instructional design know-how in any industry. Here are the top six reasons I love instructional design consulting and why you might too!
1. I geek out on learning.
I know enough about different topics to be dangerous: ladder safety, culinary knife skills, investing, customer service/sales for call centers, and emotional intelligence. I have even worked on a curriculum for underprivileged youth which included meditation and a version of team building originally developed for astronauts. I’ve developed it all and worked with people from all walks of life. The bottom line — if you love to learn, as a learning consultant, the world is your oyster. You can literally work in any industry or line of business and you meet people from all over the world.
2. I love change.
Embracing change is key to consulting. Projects can last anywhere from a few hours to a few years. If you don’t like a project, it will be over with soon enough. If you love a project and the team, you can likely find additional work with them or through networking with them. The bottom line – you must thrive in changing environments to be a successful consultant.
3. I have worked on some amazing teams.
I’ve experienced firsthand what it feels like to work on highly functioning teams. Of course, I’ve worked on teams where my personality or skill set wasn’t appreciated too. Overall, I’ve learned which type of cultures and people I fit best with.
4. I’ve learned what I don’t like as much as what I like.
I love soft skills training, but don’t enjoy technology software/systems training as much. I love simulations and writing exciting video scripts. I also like dabbling in graphic design, but still need the graphic design experts to carry the ball for me. I’m not so into k-12, but do like higher ed. I’ve been able to grow my consulting business by focusing more on the areas in which I excel.
5. I can work as much as I want or as little as I want.
Once you get a cadence down, and you have a few companies that reach out to you for work, you realize that you can work really hard some months, and less other months. There is a lot of flexibility in the world of consulting. But, you must really be willing to work hard when the work comes.
6. There is always work – you just need to know where to look for it.
Networking is the most critical to your success. I’ve found building rapport and maintaining relationships is key. People really do call back people they’ve worked with. Regularly look for work on our Careers page, the LinkedIn job board, ATD, or even through a virtual company search.
Consulting isn’t for everyone. You definitely have to be self-motivated, organized and flexible in order to be successful. But if you stick with it, over time, you can have a very fulfilling and flexible career.