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  1. #1

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    Default Young IT contractor

    Hello hello all.

    I'm an IT Infrastructure Engineer permie currently, notice handed in and LTD company/Accountant all ready to go for my first contract (Not secured or started looking yet) after my 2 month notice is up.

    Based in London, 3 years experience as an Infrastructure Engineer in various technologies and I'm 25. Wondering is there anyone of similar age who's made the leap?

    The jist I get from my contracting friends (all 40+) is that they do less work than permies due to lack of willing to knowledge share with scumbag contractors. They also reckon with my skills I shouldn't struggle despite only having 3 years experience.

    Just a friendly hello and any advice whatsoever is welcome.

    Cheers

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchell888 View Post
    Hello hello all.

    I'm an IT Infrastructure Engineer permie currently, notice handed in and LTD company/Accountant all ready to go for my first contract (Not secured or started looking yet) after my 2 month notice is up.

    Based in London, 3 years experience as an Infrastructure Engineer in various technologies and I'm 25. Wondering is there anyone of similar age who's made the leap?

    The jist I get from my contracting friends (all 40+) is that they do less work than permies due to lack of willing to knowledge share with scumbag contractors. They also reckon with my skills I shouldn't struggle despite only having 3 years experience.

    Just a friendly hello and any advice whatsoever is welcome.

    Cheers
    Well there is a lot to go through here. Things you've not considered and incorrect statements. Where to start?

    So, your experience. I assume it's three years out of Uni. So knock off at least the first year as learning. IMO 3 years experience is nothing. Most of us have worked on a single project that's taken longer than your entire career. Where is your experience with large projects, in different cultures, experience in single areas? A contractor sells his skills. His years delivering exactly what the client wants, demonstrable experience and qualifications. 3 years is bordering on the absolute minimum so you can bet there are many many people with a ton more experience ahead of you. They will also have worked in different environments and cultures. There is no way with one single company and 3 years behind you you'll be able to hit the ground running in a new environment. You also say various technologies so that waters down your experience. If a client is looking for a very specific technology and it's one of 6 of yours then you've only got months experience in that tech, possibly only having touched it once.

    Secondly you want to start at the bottom rung of the ladder and move in to an area where training and promotions are extremely difficult. It can be done but it's not the way of contracting. What could you be if you carried climbing the career ladder? PM? Solutions architect or more? All pay very good money and are in demand if you have the skills. You aren't going to get the skills selling your arse as an infrastructure engineer. Very short termist. More time spent permie climbing the ladder to get higher paid gigs is a much better idea IMO.

    Isn't the Saas first policy going to be eroding in to your work as more move the cloud?

    There is a strong chance IR35 is going hit next year and the lower level roles are the ones likely to be hardest hit. It's a good possibility in a year or so's time you are going to be struggling in a contracting role with no prospect of furthering your career yet being paid the same as a permie.

    The jist I get from my contracting friends (all 40+) is that they do less work than permies due to lack of willing to knowledge share with scumbag contractors.
    That's utter rubbish. I aim to do more work than the permies as I am an expert in my field, I am paid for results and I need to impress the client to stay. Don't always have to do any of these in certain gigs but you will be a business and will be selling yourself to your client. I do less than the permies is a poor attitude and is exactly what rubs them up so they won't share.

    They also reckon with my skills I shouldn't struggle despite only having 3 years experience.
    I beg to differ and remember people don't like giving bad news. It's likely many of them just don't want to say 'No sorry' so easier to tell you what you want to hear.

    I think you are going to struggle getting end to end gigs. If you do it's going to be right at the bottom of the pay scale with little chance to improve in years to come. It's pretty obvious you've been blinded by the sky high rates and haven't considered other aspects of why people contract, because you've not that the experience to understand why.

    I'm sure some people have gone contracting at your age but they are very few and far between for a very good reason. If it were that easy we'd be knee deep in starry eye'd youngsters aiming for the big bucks.

    Sorry if all the above feels rather harsh but that's how I do it.
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by northernladuk View Post
    Well there is a lot to go through here. Things you've not considered and incorrect statements. Where to start?

    So, your experience. I assume it's three years out of Uni. So knock off at least the first year as learning. IMO 3 years experience is nothing. Most of us have worked on a single project that's taken longer than your entire career. Where is your experience with large projects, in different cultures, experience in single areas? A contractor sells his skills. His years delivering exactly what the client wants, demonstrable experience and qualifications. 3 years is bordering on the absolute minimum so you can bet there are many many people with a ton more experience ahead of you. They will also have worked in different environments and cultures. There is no way with one single company and 3 years behind you you'll be able to hit the ground running in a new environment. You also say various technologies so that waters down your experience. If a client is looking for a very specific technology and it's one of 6 of yours then you've only got months experience in that tech, possibly only having touched it once.

    Secondly you want to start at the bottom rung of the ladder and move in to an area where training and promotions are extremely difficult. It can be done but it's not the way of contracting. What could you be if you carried climbing the career ladder? PM? Solutions architect or more? All pay very good money and are in demand if you have the skills. You aren't going to get the skills selling your arse as an infrastructure engineer. Very short termist. More time spent permie climbing the ladder to get higher paid gigs is a much better idea IMO.

    Isn't the Saas first policy going to be eroding in to your work as more move the cloud?

    There is a strong chance IR35 is going hit next year and the lower level roles are the ones likely to be hardest hit. It's a good possibility in a year or so's time you are going to be struggling in a contracting role with no prospect of furthering your career yet being paid the same as a permie.


    That's utter rubbish. I aim to do more work than the permies as I am an expert in my field, I am paid for results and I need to impress the client to stay. Don't always have to do any of these in certain gigs but you will be a business and will be selling yourself to your client. I do less than the permies is a poor attitude and is exactly what rubs them up so they won't share.


    I beg to differ and remember people don't like giving bad news. It's likely many of them just don't want to say 'No sorry' so easier to tell you what you want to hear.

    I think you are going to struggle getting end to end gigs. If you do it's going to be right at the bottom of the pay scale with little chance to improve in years to come. It's pretty obvious you've been blinded by the sky high rates and haven't considered other aspects of why people contract, because you've not that the experience to understand why.

    I'm sure some people have gone contracting at your age but they are very few and far between for a very good reason. If it were that easy we'd be knee deep in starry eye'd youngsters aiming for the big bucks.

    Sorry if all the above feels rather harsh but that's how I do it.

    First of all, I really appreciate the 'realness'. It doesn't come across as harsh.

    The three years experience weren't out of University, it's 4 years however 3 of them I'd consider actual, real independent Infrastructure work (Ie, no hand holding/learning).

    Whilst yes, the big bucks are a rather attractive element of it - I'm not naive enough to believe I'll land a £550 a day similar to grabbing your first grad job on 50k. I was aiming (In London bear in mind) for £200-250 a day. I'd rather contract and look for 6 month gigs as after about a year in a permy job, all my motivation and learning seems to nosedive. I thrive off new environments.

    In terms of large projects, despite my title being Infrastructure Engineer I've tendered for new solutions in various environments, ranging from Enterprise to small Civil service offices. I don't feel short of experience and at the risk of sounding cocky, seem to overtake my colleagues in experience rather rapidly at permanent places.

    I guess this all could be construed as defensive, which I would absolutely agree with you if I rocked up saying "I think I'm worth 550 P/D as an infra engineer, and within a year I'll move onto contracting as an architect". Absolutely not, I'm well aware the career ladder as a contractor is very very different to permanent & learning is largely on myself.


    But again, thank you and I will absolutely take it all on board.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchell888 View Post
    The three years experience weren't out of University, it's 4 years however 3 of them I'd consider actual, real independent Infrastructure work (Ie, no hand holding/learning).
    I'm sure you do but it isn't. Contractors have to adapt to many different environments quickly based on their experience and skill. It's not all about just doing the same thing at one company for three years.

    Whilst yes, the big bucks are a rather attractive element of it - I'm not naive enough to believe I'll land a £550 a day similar to grabbing your first grad job on 50k. I was aiming (In London bear in mind) for £200-250 a day. I'd rather contract and look for 6 month gigs as after about a year in a permy job, all my motivation and learning seems to nosedive. I thrive off new environments.
    You say it's an attractive element and then quote a rate that is about the equivalent of 40k permie which is peanuts. This is really the bottom end of the market and you are in to offshore/onshore territory and many people much more experienced that have big enough warchests to take this type of gig as a pastime.
    You don't really get a choice on the gigs. Some are 3 months or less, others can be years. You are either have the right attitude for contracting or not. If you want 6 months you are exposing yourself to bench time twice a year. A month of each and you are earning for less than 10 months of the year. Factor that in to a 220 a day rate, that's a pretty poor income permie or contract.
    In terms of large projects, despite my title being Infrastructure Engineer I've tendered for new solutions in various environments, ranging from Enterprise to small Civil service offices. I don't feel short of experience and at the risk of sounding cocky, seem to overtake my colleagues in experience rather rapidly at permanent places.
    It does sound cocky but pretty standard for grads 3 years in to the job. People will know this. You are up against people with up to 30 years experience so your 3, however much you want to big it up, certainly starts to look a bit low.

    But again, thank you and I will absolutely take it all on board.
    That's fair enough but you must be objective. Think about your audience and what is on a piece of paper. Does it look like you are skilled and experienced enough to an agent or a client with only one job on your CV? Gotta forget the billy big balls routine and plant your feet firmly in reality.

    Hopefully someone else will come along with their feedback so you've got different opinions to take on board, not just mine.

    EDIT : Another think you need to do is look at what is out there. No good aiming at roles that just don't exist. A quick scan of jobserve at those rates comes up with 3rd line type support roles on fairly basic tech. Everything 300 and above ask for extensive experience, some saying 3 years+. You can't grab gigs by undercutting the rate, that doesn't work in contracting. You can only get the gigs in your price band because they are aimed at your skill level. If a gig is advertised at 400 quid a day they want someone worth 400 a day, not someone willing to learn asking 200. It's not a bidding type situation. Gigs that you are looking for appear to be very thin on the ground at first glance.
    Last edited by northernladuk; 22nd January 2019 at 14:26.
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  5. #5

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    What NLUK said, but in any case consider this. On prem infrastructure is rapidly dying out. More and more companies are embracing the cloud - Azure/AWS/GCP. If you don't have any/much experience in those, get it and get it PDQ. You don't want to be the last person changing the tapes. 10+ years ago, companies needed armies of people for weeks to build and cable up datacentres, now I can spin up a whole solution across multiple datacentres or even continents from scratch in hours with Terraform, Puppet/Ansible and the like.

    There will always be a place for onsite stuff, but the trend is rapidly moving away from it.
    And the lord said unto John; "come forth and receive eternal life." But John came fifth and won a toaster.

  6. #6

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    You don't want to be the last person changing the tapes.
    Psychocandy seems to be making a good living out it.
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  7. #7

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    Freewill is too good to be a permie


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    I don't know what the going rate is for an infrastructure engineer but 200 - 250 sounds too low for a contract role. You should be looking to double your permanent rate to begin with, with a view to ending up at 3x once established. Be careful not to go in too low or people will not take you seriously. YMMV depending on whether you are any good or not.

  8. #8

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    200 - 250 sounds about right for a junior / first time infrastructure contract. You won’t get much more than that unless you’re experienced or knowledgeable in Azure or AWS.

  9. #9

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    I made the leap young (not as young as you, mind!)

    I think you can expect quite a lot of bench time, as others quite rightly point out you can't just bid low to get roles, it doesn't work. I think you'll get the odd gig, but nothing like as fast or as many as you may feel you're capable of. And that's only after you've properly re-done your CV and learned how to talk to agents. It requires a different approach, and there's a lot of pitfalls for the unwary.

    A key fact to bear in mind is that your area (on-prem infrastructure) is slowly dying, you really should be looking at getting some cloud skills if you want to be in demand. There's no harm in trying your hand in the contract market, but technical skills are only a part of what you need - the business/marketing side is also essential and it's not like you can learn all of it from a book.

    Happy to discuss further over PM, good luck.

  10. #10

    Still gathering requirements...

    cannon999 is on the bench


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    Don't let the others put you down. If you think you are good - you probably are. I work with people 25-30 years senior to me who have been doing it for just as long and frankly they are ******* useless. It doesn't matter how much experience you have - you can become experienced in a couple of years if you are smart. Know your worth.

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