Hello good people! My name is Robert Perez and I am a research assistant at Hamai Consulting and a Data Analyst at Youth Policy Institute.
My first foray into independent consulting happened was when I was offered the opportunity to work at a small consulting company. Admittedly, I was nervous in the beginning but I knew that this was what I wanted to do; and I had an inspiring leader who would later become my unofficial guide through the world of independent consulting. I still have a long way to go.
Find your passion. I spent my college years exploring a variety of topics within the field of Psychology, with particular focus on the research realm. I knew I was interested in the psychological development of youth. I read anything I could get my hands on until I found what I thought was the most interesting topic: Positive Youth Development. Ask yourself all the thoughtful questions. What are you curious about? What are you good at? In what ways could you use your skills to pursue your passion?
Once you’ve identified your passion, find others who share your interests and passions. I’m a bit of an introvert, so connecting with people is not one of my strong suits. Thankfully, I can still connect with people online! Post or respond to questions in your LinkedIn networks or use good ‘ol Facebook to search for groups that revolve around some of your interests.
Begin demonstrating your skill. Consider starting a blog or a vlog (video blog) where you can share your insights, experiences, or interesting tools. Writing a blog can help you refine your writing skills, build professional relationships, and afford you the opportunity to educate others about your field of expertise. Do a search online to find out what other evaluators are writing about see where you can fill in any gaps. Reach out to other bloggers to build relationships!
One of the most important pieces of advice that has been shared with me is this: don’t forget to learn about the business side of things. All of the consultants I’ve talked to tell me how important it is to balance my ideals with managing a business. I frequently turn to Consulting And Evaluation With Nonprofit And Community-Based Organizations by Viola and McMahon as a reference. It offers accessible insights about where to begin if you are considering starting a consulting firm with a focus on nonprofits, from developing your fee structures to what kinds of services to provide.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.