Life as an IT Consultant: Lessons I Learnt from the QA Graduate Programme

Starting a new job will seem to most consultants daunting. With the varied client sites you could be placed on in QA Consulting you can never tell what your first assignment will be like. The less obvious lessons we were taught at the academy helped me to overcome those daunting first few days and make what I believe to be a success when working on client site. Below are some of the key non- technical lessons I learnt at the QA academy and how they helped me.

1.Don’t be scared to ask questions.

Don’t be scared to ask question: this ethos was drilled into us during the Graduate Programme and to this day I believe makes the biggest impact on the success of assignment.  In a whirlwind of new faces and new routines it can really feel like a sink or swim moment, so being confident to ask your new colleagues and other consultant’s questions is vital - no matter how stupid a question may feel to you the few seconds of embarrassment can save you days of not knowing what to do.

Also, if you are like me and find learning by interacting with people to be the most effective method of learning, then being thrown into an experienced team can provide you with an enriching education experience. During my time at RBS I have learnt the most just by engaging with my colleagues and asking questions.

2.Be confident

Although at the time it seemed like a good way to break the ice, the first four weeks of enterprise architecture showed me how being confident in a working environment can make all the difference. By this I don’t mean being able to talk the loudest or to be brash, I mean having the confidence in yourself and the confidence to go against the grain and speak up in a meeting. Our main job as consultants is, funnily enough, to consult, so having the confidence and self belief to trust your own judgement is key to any successful placement or job.

In my first few days QA Consulting helped me gain the confidence to speak up during a meeting on how a process should work for an internal phonebook profile system. The suggestion I put forward has now been implemented.

3.Being a Team Player

Anybody who went through the Graduate Programme won’t be a stranger to working in a team. Project after project we saw how teamwork could bring success, and being able to gel and find my place in my team at RBS was made that much easier by lessons I learnt at the academy.

4.Self Learning

Many projects that IT consultants end up working on will require a diligent approach to self learning. During my time at the academy each week we were given a topic and expected to read up on it with the aim of presenting or blogging technical aspects of that topic. Being able to organise myself and be self taught for these topics provided me with skills that I still use on my client site. The ability to go away and find out information for yourself will always be valued in the workplace and doubly so for consulting.  

Authors: Luca Chisholm and Samuel Brown

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