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I have a degree in mathematics, but I like to code and in my short carreer (around 3 years) I have always done IT-related works, but never in companies whose main business is IT.

A couple of months ago I was hired by one of the biggest companies in my country, whose business is not IT-related but hugely relies on IT. I got a wage rise and the promise of the role of software developer.

However, after I joined I understood that the office where I was assigned is not ready to keep this promise and that I was hired in the expectation of activating a software developing unit within the end of the year, but until then this job will be done by a consulting firm, since no one else in the office is a programmer. Moreover, the consultants won't teach me the technical details of the job, so I will be starting from scratch.

Basically, in the last and following months I'm paid for doing absolutely nothing, and this is quite frustrating. Of course I am doing some training, reading guides and try to build some case-of-study, but I've lost most of my motivation.

Changing office in the same firm is not an option, at the moment.

I have reasons to believe that I just have to wait - what reassures me is that other developers will be hired in the following months and probably I was hired just too early -, but does it make sense to wait this long? How normal is this? Am I not wasting months of my life when I could be super productive? Isn't it better to leave and finally join an actual IT company?


Addendum. I tried to keep this question as general as possible, however I feel like sharing some pros and cons of my current job:

  • experience in coding (but possibly not as interesting and "educational" as it would be in more IT-related firms)
  • wage rise with respect to my previous job (but it might be difficult to get further rises in future: salary and responsibility growth here is slower than it normally is in IT)
  • huge, solid and growing company
  • possibility to catch other IT-related jobs within the company (after spending a while in this office)
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  • How long have you waited? You said it's been "months" but not how many months. There's a difference between 1-2 months and 6-8 months.
    – Ertai87
    Jun 17 at 19:15
  • Have you asked your boss if there is a project you can work on while you wait? Most projects need more documentation for instance. Jun 18 at 6:04
  • @Ertai87 it's been 2 months now, but things are not going ti change until September
    – wetrust
    Jun 18 at 20:09
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen there's nothing else I can work on, unluckily. All the other people in the office are not developers
    – wetrust
    Jun 18 at 20:11
  • 3
    Then you have a unique opportunity for pursuing your hobbies and/or contribute to your favority open source project while earning a living. Jun 18 at 22:48

4 Answers 4

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As far as I see it, the company you work at pays for services that they can not yet utilize. There can be plenty of reasons as to why this could happen. At the end of the day though, you are currently in a position many people are envious of and what you make of it is up to you.

Whether it is ethical or not, you could use your spare time to broaden your horizon or do things you never found the time for. Maybe consider learning a new programming language with the spare time given to you. It would look more impressive on your CV in the long run if you do so.

Working on personal projects would be convenient as well. You probably had one or two ideas that you simply didn't find the time for. If you have a cool idea for a coding project, now would be a amazing opportunity to pursue it.

If none of this appeals to you, you could focus on the department itself as @jwh20 suggested. There surely are problems that you could take on, though I would advise to be careful with such a approach. You are new to the company and probably aren't aware of the broader picture yet or may interfere with their upcoming plans.

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  • This used to be relatively common (companies hiring employees before they were ready for them. Good employees aren't always easy to find, so it can make sense to hire them when you find them, even if you don't have the work for them quite yet. In the mid-80s, myself and a lot of other new grads were hired by a large aerospace firm, and we had almost nothing to do for about 2 months. So with a big company, I don't think this is necessarily a red flag.
    – mhwombat
    Jun 20 at 18:17
  • A useful framing for this is "Hi boss, I'm planning to spend this week brushing up my skills in [whatever], please let me know if there's something you'd rather I was doing". Jun 21 at 6:56
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Nobody can answer this for you, so you'll need to evaluate what you want and whether that can be achieved at your current company.

Perhaps YOU can develop a plan to get from where they are to where they have stated they want to be. Management wants employees that come to them with solutions not complaints. I'm a huge fan of the idea "ask for forgiveness not permission". If you go too far too quickly, your management will let you know. But this rarely happens in my experience.

If you want to be a software developer, be one. If there is no software engineering department, create one even if you are the charter member. Ask for more resources (hardware, networking, people) that you need to accomplish the company's goals.

Act like a leader and you will end up being one!

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You should have plenty of work to do: Learn, learn, learn, learn.

Learn about your company's business so you know what software is needed. Learn about the IT equipment that they have. Learn more about software development than you already do. Come up with ideas what you might do and ask your manager or whoever is somewhere above you to do it.

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This is a HUGE red flag. 2 months, as you said in the comments, isn't a huge deal, but if it continues for much longer it's a huge problem. You mentioned in the comments that it's not likely to change until September, but that's about how long you should wait. If it doesn't change in September then you should move on.

The reason is because, if you are never given a task to do, you will eventually be fired (the company won't employ someone forever who is doing nothing). Then you have to go to another company and explain what you were doing at this company, and you will have to say "nothing" (or some fancy way of saying "nothing", like "I was working on personal improvement", which means you weren't contributing to the company, simply put, "nothing"). Doing nothing for a short period of time happens; there are scheduling issues and so on, but if you do nothing for an extended period of time that's a huge red flag for an employer.

My advice is, 2 months is not a long time, and it seems you have reason to believe that it may change in 2 months from now, in September. 4 months is about as long as I would recommend waiting. If nothing changes about this situation in September, find a new job.

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  • What I am about to say may be unethical but when asked what he did at the company, why not lie and mention that the work there didn't end up being any different compared to his previous job?
    – Squary94
    Jun 21 at 7:59
  • The problem with lying is that, unless you're very good at it, you tend to get caught fairly easily. If OP tries this strategy, it's likely they'll get caught and rejected on that basis; may as well take the gamble that they'll forgive OP for a bad experience doing nothing for a few months than to get outright rejected for lying.
    – Ertai87
    Jun 21 at 14:48

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