Many of the Graduating students in USA or professionals with H1B Visa in hand constantly debate on these questions like : ‘Should I take a full time job or get into Consulting / Contract jobs ?’, ‘Which is better for me ?’, ‘Should I look at Money or Career ?”. Firstly getting a H1B Visa is sheer luck these days with H1B Visa Lottery, once you have it, you are caught up between these choices…Personally, I have done both of them, let me share my experience and look at some of the pros and cons of both and provide you with info that can help you make an informed decision.
Just to be clear, consulting jobs in this article refer to consulting jobs typically offered by small consulting companies that just hold your H1B Visa and have you at customer site for the most time. I am not talking about the top tier consultants at big MNC consulting firms like Accenture, Deloittes, PWC, McKinsey, etc.
Consulting Job vs Full time Job in USA – What’s the main difference ?
When you are a consultant at a company, you are viewed as an expert to solve or build something. You are paid premium to get that job done. Your age, previous experience in other areas and title does not matter…you are just viewed as an expert to build something they want or solve issues they have. You are NOT on the company’s payroll and do NOT get any benefits that the customer company offers to its employees. Your only reward to doing the job is getting paid for what you have done. Maybe you will get another contract or extension of your consulting engagement. There is NO change in your title ( maybe senior consultant) or reward in terms of leadership position.
Unlike, if you are an employee, you are on the payroll of the company, you would have some additional benefits like good insurance, maybe higher education reimbursement, etc. You would have a designated title to you, you will have dedicated responsibility to you. If you work hard and succeed, you could position yourself to grow in the company as a leader. You can get promotion as well, if you succeed doing your job and convincing your manager that you have the leadership traits. You have a defined path to growth. Depending on the company, there are many benefits they offer like supporting higher education. One of my friends, got about $160,000 fully paid for his MBA at Columbia by his company as a benefit. They have moved him to leadership and growing him as a leader. You may not have all of these benefits, if you are a consultant.
Why do many choose Consulting over Full Time Job ? Money ?
The answer is very simple, more MONEY! Except few, who say that they want to learn more and consulting is good experience to work with many customers. When you are a consultant, you may have less benefits, but the small consulting company would pay more money…The reason is that they have less expense on the employee as they do not require office space and typically they do not need office space. All they do is hold your visa and pay taxes and they get rewarded quite a bit. Again, it depends on how you negotiate Salary with the Consulting company , but in general the rule of thumb is that you would make much more money in Consulting roles working for a small boutique firm.
How does a full time job role look like ? How is the money ? How is career path ?
Most of the times, when someone takes a full time job at a company, it could happen in one of the three ways.
- An individual did an internship and they liked their work and offered full time. ( F1 students with OPT/ CPT experience as interns )
- The company recruited someone with some background of education and little work experience. ( F1 students – OPT )
- The company hired an experienced individual with a specific skill and experience ( Professionals with work experience )
If you are starting your career in a full time job, the initial pay or salary would very likely to be low, in comparison with consulting jobs. If you are starting your career, it could be even lower. But the whole point of a full time job is that it is not about just money, it has a path tied to you. You are hired in a role and there are many options to grow in the company. Even if you happen to change jobs, the role you held at a company with the designation will help you grow into other role in a different company. While the money part is not going to be high, it is very good for career and progression in your job.
What is my take ? What is best for you ?
Well, in my view, I truly believe that you should take up a full time job, it helps you grown in your career in your long term and help you get into leadership roles towards the second half of your career. Personally, myself, I lost few years doing consulting jobs and could not grow much in career.
There are couple of paths: if you want to be an expert in an area, the best way to start off your career would be join one of the big Consulting companies like Accenture, Deloitte, PWC, etc. and learn as much as you can in your area of interest as a consultant. Second one is, if you want to grow in the leadership side, then you join any company of your interest as a general employee with some starting designation and work hard in the company and prove yourself to grow as a leader. If you are an experienced hire by company, you still have choice to pick up a role that can give you enough opportunity to grow in future.
If you are starting your career on F1 Visa in USA, there are many companies like GE, SAP, P&G, that offer ‘Leadership Programs’ , which will help you start off your career in a very systematic way and help you grow as a leader in the organization. You should consult your career center for help at University.
What is your take ? What is your opinion on Full Time vs. Consulting ?
Share your thoughts.