Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: Early career freelancing/independent consulting?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    5

    Early career freelancing/independent consulting?

    Hi y’all,

    Does anyone here have any experience working as a freelancer or independent consultant in the GIS or planning field, or something that blends the two, especially as an early-career professional? Here’s why I ask.

    I currently have a full-time contract job with a regional-level planning agency doing specialized GIS work (started last August, running through the end of December 2010 - I can explain later what exactly it is if it helps), but am unsure as to whether or not I will be extended. Thus, I feel it is necessary, even as I stand still 5 and a half months from the end of it, to get myself in gear for the future.

    The main problem I have now is that I have utterly no clue where to start, as I never even had the expectations of doing something like this while I was still in school, when the economy was in good shape.

    To give you an idea of the background I come from, I have degrees in geography (Bachelor’s - 2006) and urban planning (Master’s - 2008), with a particular interest in something linking transportation and GIS, but am willing to take almost anything that fits. I have alot of experience using GIS, so ideally I'd like to have that be a significant portion of the job.

    Does anyone have any tips on what I can do to get this rolling, to help keep myself afloat? Any help that you could give would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Brian

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,920
    Back in the early 90's I was in a similar position. I had developed GIS models for retail analysis that people found interesting, and I was able to get a handful of small projects. Unfortunately, as a young person without a lengthy resume I found it difficult to get projects, difficult to charge much, and difficult to live on what I made. I expect you will find the same, but it never hurts to give it a try, especially if you find yourself between jobs.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    2,789
    I assume you have your own ArcGIS license on your own computer, correct? Have you looked into GIS Jobs Clearinghouse (www.gjc.org)? I don't know if they would have contract positions. The tricky part with GIS contracts is that they aren't always for mapmaking or basic analysis. They often focus on heavier issues such as network establishment or heavy programming. Do you have any experience working in ArcSDE or computer programming?

    As for me, I worked contract work for a start-up landscape architecture company doing Sketchup models for parks. The owner worked with me when I interned for a park district and he tagged me to help me after we both left. I continued contract work for him even after I started my first full time planning job. My full time job was actually a direct competitor, however they did not enforce their non-compete clause so I continued the contract work. Those Sketchup contracts led to an occasional GIS project (GIS to CAD to Sketchup work) and I earned other contracts through other firms doing AutoCAD redlining. My current full time job (an engineering company) has a very strict non-compete clause so I had to quit moonlighting.

    You could also consider temp-to-hire companies. In November 2004, Aerotek hired me to do GPS and CAD work for an engineering company dealing with natural gas. Search previous posts on project descriptions/cut sheets. These are 1 page sheets that outline the services and projects you have worked on. These are often teasers/previews of portfolios that help get a point across.

    If contract work keeps up and you find yourself doing quite a bit it, you will have to file separate tax schedules as an independent contractor. Many contract employers do not take out for taxes, especially for very small contracts, so you will calculate your own taxes yourself. Keep your contracts in separate files, either digital or in a file cabinet. I usually keep smaller Sketchup and CAD contracts on file at home for 3-7 years before tossing them out.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    I assume you have your own ArcGIS license on your own computer, correct? Have you looked into GIS Jobs Clearinghouse (www.gjc.org)? I don't know if they would have contract positions. The tricky part with GIS contracts is that they aren't always for mapmaking or basic analysis. They often focus on heavier issues such as network establishment or heavy programming. Do you have any experience working in ArcSDE or computer programming?

    As for me, I worked contract work for a start-up landscape architecture company doing Sketchup models for parks. The owner worked with me when I interned for a park district and he tagged me to help me after we both left. I continued contract work for him even after I started my first full time planning job. My full time job was actually a direct competitor, however they did not enforce their non-compete clause so I continued the contract work. Those Sketchup contracts led to an occasional GIS project (GIS to CAD to Sketchup work) and I earned other contracts through other firms doing AutoCAD redlining. My current full time job (an engineering company) has a very strict non-compete clause so I had to quit moonlighting.

    You could also consider temp-to-hire companies. In November 2004, Aerotek hired me to do GPS and CAD work for an engineering company dealing with natural gas. Search previous posts on project descriptions/cut sheets. These are 1 page sheets that outline the services and projects you have worked on. These are often teasers/previews of portfolios that help get a point across.

    If contract work keeps up and you find yourself doing quite a bit it, you will have to file separate tax schedules as an independent contractor. Many contract employers do not take out for taxes, especially for very small contracts, so you will calculate your own taxes yourself. Keep your contracts in separate files, either digital or in a file cabinet. I usually keep smaller Sketchup and CAD contracts on file at home for 3-7 years before tossing them out.

    Hope this helps-

    Thanks for the help guys. Got a quick question for nrschmid; could you by any chance give links to some various temp-to-hire companies that you recommend? I didn't know they existed for this type of work, so I'm very curious about this.

    I do have my own GIS license on my computer, so I'm ok in that regard. I appreciate your concern.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 21
    Last post: 14 Jan 2014, 9:57 PM
  2. Replies: 6
    Last post: 01 Feb 2011, 5:07 PM
  3. Replies: 15
    Last post: 18 May 2006, 4:59 PM
  4. Sharing Independent Radio
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 18 Nov 2004, 5:19 PM