The Perfect Fit: How I Landed My First Consulting Gig

Lately I’ve been thinking it would be nice to have some income, so I’ve been keeping an eye out for a part-time consulting role that would be a good fit.  I explored local consulting companies to be matched with large local corporations but quickly realized I wasn’t ready to go back to that world.  I wanted a project I was excited about; a role that would really allow me to make an impact while working with great people.  I also wanted a project that would be valuable to my resume and what I’d want to do next if my own startup did not work out.  So I turned to other local startups, and ultimately found the ad that would lead to my first consulting gig on… Craigslist.

A lot of people knock craigslist for things like jobs.  But the magic of craigslist is that while it requires digging through a huge variety of listings (many questionable), it’s this huge variety that often results in the perfect fit.  I attribute my first job out of college to an ad on craigslist (I flew myself to New York for an interview that turned out to be a scam; while I was there I arranged another interview at a startup, and got the job).  I also attribute my job at Microsoft to an ad on craigslist – yes, I responded to a Microsoft listing on craigslist (It said 5+ years of experiences, and I had about 1, but I responded anyways).  And then, of course, there are the countless apartment, roommate situations and movers.  I don’t know who or where I would be without Craigslist.

On the first day I thought to look on craigslist, I found an ad for a marketing consultant at $20/hour.  I was about to continue my search when I realized something: I could really help this company.  They were getting ready to launch their brand and their first product, and I knew that marketing would make or break the business.  I feared the quality they would get for the listed hourly pay.  So I responded to see if there was anything I could do to help – even thinking it would be an interesting project to get involved in pro bono.  The phone call went really well, we had coffee, and next thing I knew I had a contract not just for marketing consulting, but for end-to-end web design, branding, and marketing.  Now I can really make a difference.  I’m really excited about the product and the team I’ll be working with – more details to come.

While I was talking to the large consulting companies, something just didn’t feel right.  They wanted me to sign up for more hours than I wanted.  They wanted me to sign up for a year.  While it didn’t feel right, I was still upset that paid work didn’t come along.  In contrast, when I started to speak to this startup, the pieces just fell into place.  I didn’t have to lie, exaggerate, or sign up for anything I didn’t feel comfortable for.  I was extremely open about the fact that my own startup could take me away in 3 months, and we built a plan around it.

Some lessons:

  1. Pursue every lead. If your instinct is not to reply, odds are others like you aren’t going to reply either.  Usually, the ad doesn’t tell the whole story.
  2. Fit first, money later. Forget about money and ask: Is this what you want to work on?  Are you qualified?  Can you help this company?
  3. Everything works out – for the best. We don’t know what we’re supposed to do in life, but we do have a good feeling of what we’re not supposed to do.  If individual things don’t work out, there may a reason.  If you seem to be forcing yourself, if you feel uncomfortable – you should probably be happy it doesn’t work out.  It reminds me of the college application process – I was upset when I didn’t get into Stanford early acceptance, but when I found the University of Chicago, I understood it was about the fit.
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One Response to The Perfect Fit: How I Landed My First Consulting Gig

  1. Luke Shepard says:

    Hey, so give more details! Where are you working for? For what it’s worth, I’m glad you didn’t get into Stanford too.

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