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So I'm currently working as a consultant with an agency that's fairly hard to get into, everyone loves working there and few if any people ever leave. The benefits and pay are exceptional and I'm thrilled to be working there.

What I'm concerned with is my first project that I'm assigned to. As a consultant, I think that I should be able to provide some kind of immediate value, which at the very least means that I should be well acquainted with the technology that they're using. I'm about two years out of school at this point and while I've worked with Java and Spring Boot before , it was for only the first six months or so of being an industry professional. For the last year and half I've been off doing platform/devops stuff so my main tech is Golang, Docker, Kubernetes, Kafka, IBM MQ, SQL, NoSQL, etc.

I'm fine with having to entirely relearn java and spring boot, I have nothing personal or professional against them besides them not being the most exciting or interesting technology out there. What I am concerned about is that it's going to take me a bunch of time to do so, and during that time I'm providing very little to no value to my client. I'm very confused about the expectations in this role, and I've only gotten more confused after chatting with my boss at my consulting company. The role also seems to be fairly short term, somewhere in the six-twelve month range. So for anywhere from half to one quarter of the time, I'm not providing value.

So my question is basically how can I temper some expectations? I'm not sure how the account manager for the consulting firm sold me as a consultant, but if he pitched me as some sort of java and spring boot expert, he's wholly mistaken and I certainly didn't do so during the interview process. Granted, the period in which I began interviewing to when I received an offer was less than two weeks, but I didn't start my consulting gig for a whole month. There was no conversation during that time about what role I was going to, available projects, expectations, etc.

I'm not really sure what to do, I like the company and I want to stick around and do well, but it's so easy to doubt yourself if expectations are ambiguous or unreasonable. Thoughts?

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    have you tried asking your boss? he should be able to clarify – Benjamin Aug 7 '20 at 21:07
  • This is normal for consultancy companies. They tell their client they will supply people with X, Y and Z skills and if the client is lucky the person supplied will have skill in one of them. The experienced people in the client won't be surprised an organised client would have interviewers directly and rejected you then. So don't feel bad this is normal business – mmmmmm Aug 8 '20 at 13:17
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So my question is basically how can I temper some expectations?

Make sure your boss and at least one other line manager know about your concerns; that you're being asked to work in tech that you are less familiar with and do not prefer. Do this in writing and get acknowledgements. Forward these to a personal email account. You should do this to defray any negative feedback from the client.

Speaking of clients, this is not your client. They are a client of your employer. Do not under any circumstances tell them any of this; about your preferences, concerns etc. Doing this might result in dismissal and is very likely a breach of your contract.

As a consultant, I think that I should be able to provide some kind of immediate value

You are providing immediate value. Your employer is getting well paid for placing you with a client.

which at the very least means that I should be well acquainted with the technology that they're using

In your opinion. Both the client and your employer will likely disagree. You're there to provide "business value". How do you know that these other parties haven't done a cost/benefit analysis and decided that having to take the cost of your upskilling is substantially less than either engaging a real (ie currently skilled) expert or somebody with less aptitude?

[I] like the company and I want to stick around and do well

Make your employer aware of your concerns in writing, keep your mouth shut around the client, do the best job you possibly can, and keep up with some small personal projects in the technologies you prefer.

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  • Did you say you are a consultant after two years of work experience? Is that correct? – user120435 Aug 8 '20 at 13:18
  • @Mikesplace yes. I am actually quite knowledgeable in the devops tech stack. I got lucky with my first two positions in that I got to work on some greenfield and GR platforms, I also worked my ass off putting in the extra time to really learn what I was working on. – irate_swami Aug 8 '20 at 16:01
  • @Justin Thank you for your insight, I'm new to the world of consulting and this all sounds really logical. I appreciate your time in answering my question! – irate_swami Aug 8 '20 at 16:25
  • I don't doubt that you are good at what you do because two years experience in one good technology stack is all you need, for that exact stack, but nothing else and that is the problem you are facing, you are good at nothing else – user120435 Aug 8 '20 at 22:21
  • I had the same problem myself, I had ten years experience as a systems engineer in Windows NT from version 3.5 to 4.0 and the company wanted me to be an expert in Business Intelligence, in the end I scored a job as a software developer and I never looked back after that – user120435 Aug 8 '20 at 22:29

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