I joined the IBM Apprenticeship scheme in September 2012. I was studying Computer Science at the University of Glasgow and I didn’t feel university was for me because, although I enjoyed the course, the location and even the weather (sometimes!), I found that academic education did not inspire or drive me in the way that I wanted and needed. Maybe that’s because I had a gap year in which I worked full time, I’m not sure on the psychology of it – all I can say is that I knew I wouldn’t get what I wanted from University. So I opted out, at first without a real plan, but when I became aware of the IBM Apprenticeship, I knew that this would be best thing for me.
So, I applied and passed the various assessment centre and interview stages and joined the IBM Apprentice Scheme and the UK and Ireland Tivoli Storage Manager support team on 24th September 2012. Tivoli Storage Manager is an enterprise level backup solution – allowing businesses to protect themselves from disasters and data loss. It works in a similar way to the backup software you may have on your laptop but on a business level. My role comes in when a client has a question about, or a problem with, the software. This can range from simple ‘how to’ advice all the way up to system outages that require complex and in-depth technical resolutions involving multiple people, countries and machines. I communicate with the client via phone or email, and provide documentation and bespoke problem resolution steps remotely, either from the office in North Harbour, or from my study at home. This role is really satisfying with no two days the same – I can be fixing crashed systems in India in the morning, and having complex technical discussions with other IBMers in Germany in the afternoon (without leaving the office!). I have also recently volunteered for some on-call work, supporting one of our largest clients implement a major change in their IT infrastructure – for which (at certain times of the day) I will be the sole person responsible for assisting the client in performing these changes that will take their business to the next step. As you can probably imagine, this is going to be stressful but hugely exciting – and an opportunity I sincerely doubt I would have experienced at University.
The IBM Apprenticeship scheme includes so much more than my role however. Over the last 14 months or so, I have been involved in a web development project (learning PHP – a web based programming language – whilst doing so) to create a system to change IBM recruitment of Apprentices, Graduates and Interns. This system will standardise the information collected by assessors and for the first time, allow IBM to perform complex data analytics on this data to (amongst other things): find out what assessments give the best insight into a candidates capabilities and look for patterns in candidates behaviour so we can advise future candidates on how to make themselves more hirable (i.e maybe candidates from a certain University consistently score highly on problem determination exercises but poorly on teamwork, we can suggest to that University that running some team working workshops will make their candidates more attractive to businesses after graduation). To have the opportunity to perhaps directly impact another persons future prospects for the better is hugely rewarding . And it doesn’t end there – I have also recently got involved with internal projects that aim to build on the award winning success of the IBM Apprenticeship and make it even better. One project aims to allow Apprentices and Graduates already within IBM to take sabbaticals to other areas of the IBM business outside of their original role, thus giving them a greater insight into the opportunities in IBM. Another project is looking into creating a support scheme to ensure Apprentices retain the support network and contacts from the IBM Apprenticeship scheme after they have ‘graduated’, to provide a springboard to the rest of their career.
Overall the IBM Apprenticeship scheme has given me opportunities that I believe I couldn’t have had at University, and the next 12 months promise to be even more exciting here at IBM. I am a respected member of my team and IBM, and relied upon by a number of people to do all sorts of things. I am beginning a career that I have always wanted, and not once have I been asked to ‘make the teas’!
More information on the IBM Apprenticeship scheme can be found here: http://www-05.ibm.com/employment/uk/school-leavers/apprentice/
And please come back for future posts from other Apprentices, I can assure you it’ll be a completely different read!