Hayley James, Test Manager, IBM Apprentice, November 2010 – present

I joined IBM as one of the first Apprentices in November 2010. I found the IBM Apprenticeship scheme online through the brilliant IBM recruitment website. The reason that I applied for the Apprenticeship scheme is that although I really enjoyed college I knew that spending the next 3 or 4 years in a classroom based environment was not the best career path for me.

Doing an Apprenticeship gave me so many immediate benefits; learning whilst I earn, no debt, fast route into my chosen career path and mentorship.

I was the only one of my friends to go into an Apprenticeship scheme rather than University. One of the things I was most worried about was the fact that I may miss out on the independent lifestyle that you gain by going to University. I soon realised that this in fact was not true. I was soon able to afford to move out into my own flat and if I really wanted I could easily afford to visit my friends at their various Universities. I am also currently living away from home Monday to Friday and home at weekends.

When joining IBM I was assigned to a test analyst role. It was an area of the business I quickly enjoyed. One of the things I enjoyed the most about this role was being able to work with the client and understand what they wanted from the product IBM were creating for them. From this, I decided I would like to explore a more technical role and I moved into a developer role. In this role, I learnt many different technical languages over a 6 month period, however it was not a role that suited me (when considering my future career) so I moved back into the testing sector as soon as I could. Working in this role gave me amazing skills to become a better people manager as I was able to understand what different members of the team were doing and what work that they need to do.

I have built up my career path within the testing sector. I have worked on a variety of accounts, travelling all around the UK. It has meant living out of hotels and exploring new areas – however I have loved every moment of it. I have had incredible opportunities – from going to India for a month to speaking about Apprenticeships, and the IBM Apprenticeship specifically, at a Westminster employment forum.

I am currently a test manager for a Customer Development Centre. I manage an offshore team of 15 people, and a further 3 people in the UK. My role includes defining the scope of testing (i.e what it is that we are actually testing, what areas of code or functionality etc), working with the client to maintain a good relationship, ensuring communications remains smooth across a global delivery and maintaining a high level of skilled personal in my team.
I do believe that Apprenticeships will be more important in the future, and I am proud that I am an IBM Apprentice.

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