AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Jun/15

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IC TIG Week: Susan Wolfe on Losing My Independence

My name is Susan Wolfe and I am a Senior Consultant at CNM Connect where I provide evaluation and other capacity building services to non-profit organizations. Two months ago I was the owner of Susan Wolfe and Associates, LLC, my own consulting firm; however, after five successful years I chose to close my doors and become an employee.

People have asked why I made this choice to give up my independence. The main reason is that although I LOVED the work I was doing, I did not so much care for the business side of independent consulting. When I was offered the opportunity to join the non-profit CNM Connect as a consultant I easily accepted it without once looking back.

Lesson Learned: Even if I am successful with something, if I don’t enjoy it then it’s OK to make a change when an opportunity that better fits my interests and needs. When I started as an independent consultant it fit well with my interests and needs, but things changed over time. When I was no longer enjoying my work, I allowed myself to be open to other possibilities, and because of this a more suitable situation presented itself.

Throughout the past five years, I had a love-hate relationship with working alone at home. I liked the convenience of not commuting and having to dress up for work every day. I also liked being able to work with one of my dogs in my lap. On the other hand, after some time I started to feel the absence of co-workers. I missed belonging to an organization with other people but I knew I did not want to grow my consulting business.

Hot Tip: If you like having colleagues that you work with daily while at the same time would like to be an independent consultant, consider forming a company or collective. Working at home alone can be isolating.

Hot Tip: Networking with other evaluators, locally, statewide, and nationally, and teaming up for collaborative proposals and projects is one way to reduce your sense of isolation. I regularly scheduled lunch with colleagues or community partners, and ultimately teamed up with another local evaluator to form an informal local evaluator’s group that gathers bi-monthly for happy hours.

Rad Resource: If you are thinking of transitioning from independent consulting to working for an organization, scan the AEA job listings to see what is available. It’s a great way to look around and see if there is something that would better fit your current needs and interests.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating IC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Independent Consulting Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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  • Ashley M. · March 23, 2016 at 12:51 am

    Hi Susan, I think it is wonderful that you realized your original idea of happiness or fulfillment in the end was not all it was hyped up to be! I truly agree that if you find yourself stumbling across a better opportunity or situation that you should take it! In theory the idea of working from home is ideal for most, for the reasons you have presented – no commute, lounging – but the lack of social behavior can make for a harsh reality. Thank you for sharing your story!

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