Monday, February 18, 2008

Make the Best of IT-12 things to do while on bench

"Bench" is a dreaded term for IT employees...Its a phase where an employee is paid to do nothing. Often employees complain that they're made to sit on bench...
Below is a list of initiatives you can take while on bench. An employee may pick one that best suits his/her interest/skills. If you can think of some more, please add a comment.

1. Learn a foreign language
French, German, Chinese, Japanese...I don’t have to stress on the opportunities it may bring if you know one or more international languages.

2. Start building a website
Pour your creativity and imagination and build a website. You may buy a domain name and host or start off with any of the freely available sub domains. You can start with basic HTML and go on improving the design and adding new features. There’s no end. Who knows? Couple of years down the line Google or MS may offer couple of billion dollars to acquire your website...

3. Technical Certifications
You know what they mean and the importance of such certifications in your resume.

4. Educate yourself financially.
Financial education doesn’t mean knowing how to swipe your credit card. Learn what all expenditures and savings are tax exempted, find out which Mutual Fund has been performing well consistently for past few quarters, try to follow stock market and see if you can predict the rise and fall or identify at what level a particular scrip can be bought or sold-all these can be extremely rewarding. You will be able to save a lot of money as you’ll know how best to handle it, and may be end of the year, your whole team might approach you for advice.

5. Learn a bit of law.
What are the regulations involved in buying a land? What are the guidelines to be followed while constructing a house? What is de-notification? What are the fees to be paid for various registrations? Whom to contact if there’s a violation of IPR? This knowledge can save you from frauds and cheatings.

6. Attend learning activities
Enroll to various learning activities being conducted by your organization. enroll and learn few new things, (proposal writing, business communication and so on) You may not necessarily need them right away but even 10% if you’re able to retain that can come handy at times.

7. Gather some functional knowledge related to one or more verticals.
Besides technical skills you might be good at why not learn more about few industries? What is PII (Personally Identifiable Information) in pharma industry? What are their legal obligations and why they are so persistent on extensive documentation? What are ISBN 10 and ISBN13? (Publication and ecommerce) What do they mean by upstream, midstream and downstream in Oil business? How Hybrid engines work in a car? Can you think of any ways how can redesign their website to offer better user experience to end user and show more relevant ads in each page? What does a day book contain? What is underwriting and how it is done?

8. Build some applications-Can you come up with a face book application? Or write clients for some web services (Google, yahoo, Amazon...) and use them in your application?

9. How about Learning applications like flash, Photoshop, Dreamweaver?

10. Creative writing
Try writing something. You may begin with blogs but objective should be writing something (story/article/poem etc) which a newspaper (state level at least) can accept for publishing. Seeing your name in print will surely motivate you. See if you can think of a novel...

11. Volunteer for charity works and social service.

12. Do some correspondence courses

I understand there’re concerns (such as non availability of systems) because of which some of the suggestions might not be possible. At least one or two of the above listed activities must be suiting your interests, skills and feasible to undertake. The idea is, it is possible to keep yourself occupied, with tasks which result in some value that can be leveraged in future. You may wish to stay focused on your core competency (say coding in .net) and may feel you’ll lose touch if you deviate attention to other activities. Trust me, all above tasks will complement and supplement your primary skill set and is unlikely to subtract anything from it. No harm knowing few more things than necessary and sometimes it is good and safe to stay diversified.

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Nithin said...

Good work dude

hari said...

Some good tips, Shrinidhi. People should look to develop skills beyond their own domain.

Anonymous said...

I would love to explore the functional knowledge. Could you please help me some good resources for Telecom Domain. Tried google but didn't get any relevant links :-(.

Shrinidhi Hande said...



@ Hari: Thanks and agreed...

Anonymous: I'll see if I can get anything. Dont have anything ready on telecom as of now.

Try going through websites of RCOM, Bharti etc...

Bijoy said...

Nice Post.Adding to your tips, create a website which will have company's canteen food item, cubicle arrangement etc.

Shrinidhi Hande said...


Idea! but no thanks