Once you're "in the system," and you do good work, it's not surprising to be on a 'rolling consultant status' for quite some time. People learn about your work, and you get an edge
in the recruitment processes for short-time jobs. It also helps to be 'around and available.'
I was around and available for three years at UNICEF HQ, with a small stint at a consultancy at UNDP in-between jobs. I worked in different sections, but mostly in policy. It was a bitter-sweet time, with lots of highs and lows.
I was very happy and proud to work as a consultant, particularly in relation to the high-level jobs I was doing. Plus, as a consultant I often didn't have to deal with the daily management crap that comes along with being a full time staff member. I was bound by deliverables and could manage my time and work load according to them.
But it was also a frustrating time. The uncertainty of not having an steady pay check was horrible. I was lucky to count on my husband's salary during those jobless months, so I was able to 'wait' until the next gig came along. On the other hand, I met many capable individuals who served as consultants at UNICEF but couldn't afford to play the 'waiting game' and ended up leaving the organization.
I always had my eyes on a staff position and I remembered applying to several posts, particularly during my third year as a consultant. My job hunt during those years yielded three important lessons, which I'll expand in the next posts:
1. Know where you want to be in 5 to 10 years;
2. The art of networking; and
3. Go to a Country Office!