Lawrence Abde Amin, Systems Integration Specialist, IBM Apprentice, September 2012 – present

Growing up, in school and throughout my time at college, I was always under the impression that there was only one way to land yourself a successful career with a good income, job security and opportunities to learn and thrive. This being the traditional route of attending university and gaining a good degree.

For me, an apprenticeship was something that I’d not even contemplated. Rightly or wrongly, I held an image in my head of slightly more ‘hands on’ work – carpentry and the suchlike. It therefore seemed unnatural to me to stray from the path of academic education, to specialize in a niche line of work whereby I could be expected to spend the majority of my working life. However, university didn’t seem like the kind of environment where I’d really be motivated, so I looked for alternatives and a friend recommended the IBM scheme. After doing some research, I was impressed with the offerings, I applied and was thankfully granted a place.

I won’t say that preconception was shattered from the second I stepped foot in the office, because that wouldn’t be true. More accurately, my first few days and weeks were a blur of technical jargon, security pass applications and attempting in vain to remember what felt like hundreds of my new colleague’s names. It could have easily become overwhelming, were it not for the warm welcome and level of patience I received from my team.

Within the opening weeks of my time in IBM, I was exposed to the inner workings of my account and the complexity of it all was somewhat astounding. The knowledge of those working around me, some of whom had been experts in their field for decades, was certainly impressive and made a lasting impact.

My role involves supporting the various applications and software used within my account. More specifically, I help maintain code and write scripts that do all manner of tasks from housekeeping databases to installing configurations. Recently, I’ve been looking into a product called Websphere MQ which is used to transport data as messages, the underlying technology which enables businesses to build architectures which are flexible and reusable. Nearly all of this work is done on the Unix operating system which is used universally for programming, making these skills highly transferable.

In the 18 months that I’ve been here, I’ve learned a great deal and have the fantastic group of colleagues, who tirelessly go out of their way to help me truly understand the work we do, to thank for it. Applied knowledge really does trump learned knowledge and as my role in the account grows and my responsibilities increase, I look forward to looking back at my career and saying with pride that ‘I didn’t actually go to university’.

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