As with any career, consulting has a number of benefits and challenges. As a consultant architect you get to experience more environments than a in house architect. On the other hand you aren't assured that you will be doing architecture on every assignment. One day you may be working as a developer and the next as a project manager.
So how do you keep your skills sharp and your resume viable? Your resume is going to be littered with jobs other than the title of architect. Within a project look for areas where you can apply your architecture skills.
The first thing to look at is assisting your manager to resolve issues. This demonstrates your ability to work problems and think at a project level instead of a code level.
Mentoring junior developers within your team is another way to improve your worth. Besides helping the team to improve the quality of the product this also keeps in your mind the best practices of software development.
One thing you definitely need to do is mine the client for areas where they do need architects. As consultants we sometimes have to sell our abilities more than full time employees. This means seeking out areas outside of your current project to advance your cause.
Of course one thing that all architects should do is read books about architecture in general as well as skills that are related to job of an architect. Mentors and peers aren't always available.
Lastly, get involved with your local architect community. I would suggest joining your local chapter of IASA (Chicago chapter is coming soon).
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