Why do you do this consulting work? Don't you HAVE a job?

Rian Schmidt

September 22, 2023

You might think that I'd be plenty busy as a father and full-time CTO. And you'd be right. I am fairly busy during the day. So, why in the world would I want to do this consulting "side-hustle"? Do I have loan sharks after me? Are my day jobs volunteer gigs?

Nope. Aside from impending college tuition for the kid, I do it because it gives me all kinds of opportunities to work with situations, both business and technical, that I wouldn't otherwise. Anyone who's worked at a company for a while knows that you get into a rut. Usually, you have the same stack for years, and you learn to work it to solve problems that resolve around the same domain.

The problem with that is that my thinking begins to close in to the world that I see every day. Also, even if I do become intrigued by some new technology, in my role as a corporate CTO, it's pretty awkward to have me spinning up goofball projects just to try out some new shiny thing that looks promising. In fact, I think my team would prefer that I stuck to strategy, audits, and budgets and left the coding to them.

My part-time consulting work in recent years has given me exposure to clients in fields including insurance, logistics, law, and finance. Typically, working with smaller businesses, I'm also free to implement solutions for them in whatever way I see fit, which means I'm able to try out technology approaches that don't have an immediate application in my "day job" but are perfect for the problem at hand.

I enjoy technology, and so working on some evenings and weekends on solving a completely different set of problems than I do during the day is actually kind of fun for me, if I'm honest. Generally, I don't take on more than one or two clients at a time, and the work tends to be pretty easy to manage in the time that I have available. (You'd be surprised how much time you get back not watching TV, getting off social media, and the kids grown.)

If you know me, you know that I can't sit still for long. Part-time technology consulting is a great way for me to keep busy, particularly in Portland's eternal rainy season, and to keep my mind open to different ways of solving problems-- both business and technical. Much of what I've learned finds its way back to my main job when the situation presents itself.

I keep learning, my employer gets the benefit of my wider perspective, and my clients are able to retain the services of an technical advisor and consultant with decades of experience for far less expense or commitment than hiring full-time or even outsourcing to a larger agency would require.