Oh the bench. Not exactly a place one wants to stay for too long. The proverbial bench is the place you go when you are between projects.
What’s so bad about that, you might ask? Sounds like a nice vacation? Not quite.
There’s an important measurement that a consultant at IBM becomes quickly aware of: your utilitization rate. Your utility rate is the percentage of hours charged to a project, over all hours worked in total. This shows how well you’ve been utilized. If you spend too much time on the bench, which means you are logging un-billable hours, then your utility rate starts to decline.
Fear not! Because there are many ways to combat the inevitable bench time. Of course, your main priority should be to get on a new project. That always comes first. But in case you find yourself on the bench, here are some best practices:
- B&P work. This is bid and proposal work. It’s done when a new project is about to be signed. Not only are you being helpful, but if you do a good job, you might be top candidate to jump onto that project once it officially starts.
- Network. Talk to people. Someone may know of a position that is soon-to-be available. Additionally, someone may have B&P work that you can help with.
- Training. There are loads of resources on the IBM hub for online training. It’s great to be able to say you’ve completed certain trainings if it becomes relevant for a future project. Also, you’ll probably actually learn a lot about how IBM does its business, which is very helpful.
- Give-back programs. There are many ways to give back to the community. Within IBM, there are groups that organize events/opportunities to give back.
And of course, after all of the bench-work is done, and after you’ve found yourself a new project, there is always something to look forward to. In NYC, we know how to host a super fun happy hour. Though it doesn’t need explaining, happy hour is a great way to unwind, while catching up with those colleagues and friends who you don’t work with day-to-day. Below is a photo of a few of my friends (who had the same start date I did) from a happy hour this December.
Thanks for reading!