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I'm a senior in college and am getting close to graduation. I love programming, and I certainly want my first job to involve programming (I'm also looking at fit, culture, location, etc. etc.).

I've noticed that some major consulting firms are recruiting from my school's engineering department and are looking for computer science majors. I'm considering going out to a few info sessions to get a feel for the work, but in general, what does a programmer do at a company like this? If the company is looking to fill a position called "Business Analyst" with a computer science major, will the job likely even involve any programming? If it does, how might this work vary from a typical programming job at a software company?

Here is an example of the type of company I see recruiting.

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This book is all about developers in consulting firms: nomadic-developer.com/the-book –  Oded Sep 24 '11 at 16:47

3 Answers 3

I was hired as a consultant developer at a company I used to work for, and I did program a lot. I would interact with customers and talk to them about their needs, what they were looking for, and implement custom code for them. I was also sent on-site to help clients, advise them on how to use the products my company made, and also write custom code to show them how to integrate our products into theirs, and build their own software using stuff I worked on.

That said, business analysts are typically roles where you advise clients on how certain technologies can fit into their business/process/whatever. It might mean you're not writing any code whatsoever, or only writing a little. The bulk of your job could be talking about how to integrate technologies together to fit a company's needs (like IT consultant).

As a consultant though, be prepared for the travel. I learned to keep a suitcase at my desk, ready to go, as I was once given 2 hours notice to jump on a plane to Philadelphia, and then drive to a pretzel factory for a client (no...they didn't make pretzels).

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Well, I don't think consulting involve any programming. I sometimes consult some small companies, and to tell you the truth, while they pay good for consulting, it doesn't involve almost any kind of programming. I just bring some reasons to persuade them that the path they've taken is kind'of right or wrong, and bring them better implementation ideas.

A consulting agent is not necessarily a business analyst. But in case they map, a business analyst doesn't code. Analysis and design doesn't involve programming and the guys at these positions only try to analyze and visualize the application using appropriate tools and bring forward some solutions.

Implementor are almost the only people who actually code. So, if you are interested in a job which involves writing code, I think you won't get it there.

However, IMHO, you can both get a job as a consulting agent, and at the same time work on some hobby projects of yours. This way, you can preserve the opportunity, while at the same time fulfilling your desires.

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Could you explain what you mean by "preserve the opportunity"? Does a position as a business analyst seem like a particularly good opportunity vs. a typical software job? –  Casey Patton Sep 24 '11 at 4:42
Yeah @CaseyPatton. Project Managers, Analysts, and Designer tend to get more respect and salary than fellow developers. You can see this question talking on that. –  Saeed Neamati Sep 24 '11 at 6:13
I'm facing the same thing here, I'm offered a technology consultant role in one of big four. However, as much as I do love programming, I don't want to lose this opportunity. How hard is it to get a development role in the future, if I'm going to constantly making pet projects in my free time? Will I be considered as junior? even though (for example) I had 2-3 years of being a consultant? –  Sobiaholic Feb 17 at 20:44

It depends on the size of the organization. I've worked for a couple of regional consulting companies, and it's always been straight-up development work. However, I've also worked with teams from large (what used to be called "big 5") consulting companies, and they seemed to do a lot more design and analysis, with their programming confined to prototypes or technology demonstrations. I got the impression that there were distinct classes of consultants, though. Some were more customer-focused, and did more of the requirements gathering and UI design, working directly with the end users. Others were more technology-oriented, and tended to do more of the system design and implementation.

I'm sure yours is a common concern, and any recruiters you talk to will be able to tell you what to expect for a typical assignment.

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