Why I’m Making the Switch to Contract Workby MindSpring Michael on June 1, 2020 in Job Seeker, MindSpring Michael
I’m Michael. I work in tech and I’m a colleague of Mindy’s. I don’t know about you, but these last few weeks have been tough. First, we were all told to work from home. Luckily, I have a pretty awesome workstation set up for myself, complete with curved computer screens and an ergonomic desk chair, so that wasn’t the end of the world. (Yeah, I play a lot of video games in my free time in case you’re wondering.) But then came the cuts and layoffs. I ended up getting furloughed. Definitely didn’t see that coming…
I always thought furlough was something that only happened to government workers. Turns out I was wrong. Furlough basically means that, while I still technically have a job, I’m not getting paid and I’m not doing any of the full stack development work I’d normally do. My company has said they want to bring me back when this crisis is over, but there’s no guarantee. And anyway, who knows how long shutdowns and social distancing will last?
As an IT guy, I’ve seen my fair share of change and disruption. Technology changes all the time and we tech nerds learn to adapt. I’d always assumed my job was safe as long as there wasn’t a zombie apocalypse. Guess I’ll have to add global pandemic to that list now.
Luckily, my cool coworker Mindy reached out when she heard the news and told me about MindSpring, the staffing company she worked with who helped her land her current job. I’ve always been pretty skeptical about working with a recruiter, but since I’ve got a lot of time on my hands now, I figured it couldn’t hurt to check out. Even before this whole pandemic thing I’d been thinking about my career and what kind of work I’d really like to be doing. Plus, as much as I’ve been enjoying the extra gaming time, it’s probably a good idea to get away from the keyboard and figure out what comes next.
Mindy connected me with her recruiter, Susie, who ended up putting me in touch with Tom, the tech recruitment manager at MindSpring. We had a Zoom call to talk about my options and what my ideal tech job looks like. Tom really understands the Chicago IT industry and he actually had a lot of helpful info for me. I didn’t realize how many companies offer contract and contract-to-hire roles, especially coming out of an economic crisis like we’re seeing now. I’d never really considered those types of roles before, but Tom had some cool insights to share. I figured I’d pass the info along in case anyone else out there is job searching or considering their next career move.
Tom’s Top Benefits of Contract Work
1. Gain New Skills
After reviewing my resume, Tom noted that I have a lot of experience in full stack web development, but he also pointed out that my area of expertise and chosen languages were narrowing my job options, especially considering I’d like to manage a development team someday. Would I be open to other opportunities? He explained that a contract job would be a great way for me to learn new skills and gain some different experience.
I’ve been doing the same web development work for a while now, so the idea of mixing it up and moving to a new platform or learning a new coding language is pretty intriguing. (I’ve actually been wanting to learn F# for a while. I hear it’s great for modeling and data analysis.) As Tom explained, if my company brings me back from furlough and I decide to return to my old role, I’ll have new skills to show off. And if not, I can use the tech skills I pick up to land an even better opportunity. Seems like a win-win to me.
2. Experience Different Work Environments
Like most millennials, I’ve had a few different jobs throughout my career, but I’ve always wanted to work in a big tech firm. Since I don’t have any experience in those types of companies, I figured I’d never be considered for a position, so I hadn’t bothered applying before. But Tom told me that contract work is actually a great way to get my foot in the door.
It turns out that, after economic downturns (i.e. what’s happening to the economy right now), companies usually increase their contingent hiring. Basically, there are opportunities available that wouldn’t normally be, and taking a contract or contract to hire role could be the first step toward my ideal job. Tom also noted that, if my goal is to land a management role eventually, working for a tech start-up might be the perfect move. At a start-up, I would have the chance to wear a lot of hats, and that diverse experience could help me move into a management position sooner. Either way, both sound like a cool new challenge and a great opportunity to try out a new work environment.
3. Expand My Professional Network
Tom’s final point about the benefits of contract work was the one that convinced me a contract job might be the best fit for me right now. For a long time, people have been telling me I need to network more and connect with other tech pros and web development experts, especially here in Chicago. Sure, I have a LinkedIn profile like everyone else, but I hardly ever use it and networking is hard and time consuming.
I did recently start going to Chi Hack Night and some other local tech meetups, but most of that is on pause right now. The great thing about a contract role is that I could learn from a new boss or find a mentor to help me with my tech career. Contract work could lead to a full-time job if things go well, and if not, I’ll have great professional references for my next position. After all, data has shown that one of the best ways to accelerate your career is to make connections with other professionals. Case in point, if it weren’t for Mindy, I wouldn’t have gotten connected with MindSpring…
After talking to Tom, I decided it was time to update my resume and give contract work a shot. Tom ended up finding me an opportunity with a well-respected local startup. The role seemed like it was meant for me. I thought briefly about turning it down.
After all, I am still on furlough and my company might be ready to bring me back soon. But, in the end, I decided the risk was worth the reward. I already had a promising phone screen and my Zoom interview is next Monday. Tom’s been helping me through the entire process. We even have a practice interview set up for later this week, which is awesome because I’m feeling a little rusty. It’s great to know that Tom and the MindSpring team have my back.
Check back for updates on my contract job search or reach out to learn more about why working with MindSpring has been a good fit for me.