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Could You Be a Consultant?

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Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: Ashley Stewart

When I graduated from college and began answering job ads, I was under the impression I was pursuing the only viable path--get an entry level job with one of the "big" companies, work there for five, seven years, and then take that experience and try to get a better job. Ascend the corporate ladder, so to speak.

It was something my father had talked to me about often--always citing his own entry into corporate America, his first job offer in the public relations department of Southern Pacific, and his subsequent position at Kaiser Aluminum--two companies that don't exist anymore (which should have been the first red flag).

Without launching into a diatribe about how the dot com boom changed the face of America, let's just say that there are all different ways that people can make money now, and people live unconventional lives that would have been totally inconceivable back then. I mean, there are "professionals" that make a living in their pajamas, writing health and fitness blogs from home and twenty eight-year olds that make millions off some social networking site they developed in their dorm room. The linear, tried and true path from first Cadillac to gold Rolex and a two story house in the suburbs is no longer the norm.

I got my first job as a "consultant" on a fluke. The job situation was so bleak after college that I took an unpaid internship with a small public relations agency; here I would get the preparation I needed to build up my resume so that future employers might look upon my application more favorably. I worked several months for free, until the owner of the company gave me a proposition: she was happy with the work I had done and was willing to offer me a position as a part time "consultant."

I didn't have to think about it very long. I took the job and thus embarked on my first official consulting gig. In this economy, why not embrace alternatives to the run of the mill job situation. Over the past few weeks, I've taken advantage of the perks of my little PR job and I love it. First of all, I love the fact that at my job, I am valued most for what I produce. It's not about what I wear, how good my hair looks that day, how well I make small talk or if I adhere to proper employee codes of conduct.

All that matters is that I make it to the office sometime between eleven and half past twelve, and that I turn out a quality finished product. I come in with my hair all disheveled, nursing a cappuccino and Jason, one of the account executives gives me my assignment for the day. It varies -which is something else I love. Some days it's "write a caption for this Cameron Diaz photo," other days it's "I need an article to submit to an architectural magazine." Just last week I had to write some press release about jellyfish. You have to be willing to do some research, to adapt your style to the purpose, and to take criticism well.

After giving the whole consultant thing a "go" in the writing arena, I began to think about it in other capacities. The other day I saw a sign in Starbucks advertising the services of an experienced "life consultant." I met someone else recently who was an organizational consultant of sorts. She spends hours going through the closets of the wealthy and the closets of their children, organizing clothes, getting rid of what they don't need anymore and maximizing the space they have. After working for awhile as a nanny, she found she had a knack for redesigning other people's closets. Word spread, and now she has enough clients to keep her in the black.

With the massive lay-offs and unemployment numbers on the rise, it's time to get creative. Working for yourself, finding something you're good at and getting paid as you develop your skill is, at least for me, an ideal way to make money.

Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI) is youth-driven converged media production company that delivers the best youth news, culture and undiscovered talent to a cross section of audiences. To read more youth news from around the globe and explore high quality audio and video features, visit Youthradio.org