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Q7: How Do I Get Consulting Contracts in ICT4D?
Another subscriber question:
I have experience in ICT4D and I want to get contract work as an independent consultant. How do I connect with recruiters in digital development for new consulting work?
I find there are really two different questions inherent in this inquiry. There is a request for consulting work, and the assumption that recruiters are the gateway to that work.
Consulting Work in Digital Development
In international development overall, there are a decent number and type of consulting opportunities to help humanitarian organizations achieve their goals. However, in ICT4D specifically, there are generally less opportunities for international technology consultants.
Typically, technology advisors at major humanitarian organizations contract internally with their country teams when developing and deploying ICT4D interventions. This strong bias is healthy. It makes sure solutions are relevant to local contexts and it builds local capacity to develop future solutions.
In contrast, at the country level there are many opportunities for local technology consultants to support humanitarian organizations. Like country staff, in-country consultants also ensure solutions are locally relevant and they can carry on ICT4D capacity after the program ends.
In conclusion, there are few international technology consultant roles, and many local technology consultant roles in ICT4D. So how to find one of them?
How to Find Consultant Opportunities?
The subscriber asked how to connect with recruiters to find consultant roles, which I don’t think is the best approach. I don’t see recruiters as the common route to consulting opportunities.
I firmly believe that the best route to consulting opportunities, or full time employment – is to connect directly with technology advisors and country teams. They are the ones who see the need for more help first, have control over budgets, and are the final deciders on who they will hire for their needs.
To connect with technology advisors and country teams, first be sure to start networking well in advance of your needs. Meet with them as part of an informational interview campaign to understand the ecosystem and alert people to your presence. Then consider a volunteer consulting engagement to gain experience and exposure. Finally, repeat the process with patience till you succeed.
Yes, its pretty simple, but it takes effort.