Monthly Archives: June 2014

Yasmin Stageman – A Guest Post introduction …

Hi!

My name is Yasmin, but preferred to be called Yas. I am an IBM Apprentice that started in the September 2012 intake , so I am classed as one of the ‘older’ apprentices as I have nearly been at IBM 2 years, (but I still feel like a newbie!) I am based in Farnborough and have been working on a Public Sector account in Farnborough for the duration of my time as an apprentice here at IBM.

I first heard about IBM’s apprenticeship scheme on the television one evening – which my parents then encouraged me to apply to in March 2012. I had also already applied and been given a conditional place at Canterbury Christ Church University to study Computer Science. April/May I had been selected and chosen for the next steps of the application process (for the IBM Apprencticeship) after completing an online test. I had received an email days before letting me know that I had been invited to attend a final assessment centre in Southbank. Having only been driving a few months I drove up to London in my little Clio, suffering from a cold and in my formal business attire feeling very anxious.

A week passed and I was notified that I had been successful in gaining a place in the IBM apprenticeship scheme! I was then able tell my school sixth form that I had taken an alternative to the university route and that I was going to complete an apprenticeship for IBM. It was a difficult decision to make at the age of 18 as to whether I would go to university to study a subject I was really passionate about, or whether I would move over 100 miles away from home, move to a town called Farnborough (that I had to look up on Google maps), leave all my friends and family behind to start a job in the corporate world without knowing anybody. I was determined to pursue a career in the IT industry and to work for such a prestigious company and global market leader such as IBM was such an achievement that I couldn’t wait to start!

I always knew that from a young age that I had a passion for technology, I remember my dad owning a mobile phone back in 1998 when I was 5 years old and I had already learnt how to change his ringtone, change the settings for predictive text, add contacts and lots of other aspects (in 1998 changing a mobile phone’s ring tone was a top feature!). By the age of 10 my parents had bought me a second hand laptop, which ironically was an IBM ThinkPad.

Continuing on from then I started to learn web development in HTML coding from the age of 14. I would go on internet sites and self taught myself how to create a web page with text, images, navigation links and how to add colour to specific elements. When I was 16 I had to complete work experience as part of my studies at school. I got in contact with a local web design company which I then worked for, attending client business meetings and would go back to the office and then produce a design specification with other employees.

When I first started at IBM I knew that I wanted to go into a technical role and that I would enjoy this type of role. We had interviews with our project managers who then suggested that I would like to go into the Configuration Management team. When starting the team, I had lots of team meetings and shadowing other teams members so that I was able to understand what the team did, learning more about the project itself and getting to know more about IBM and their services.

 

After 18 months I then found my next role which is now as an application developer. For the last 6 months I have been learning and implementing a web application for a client. I have been able to put my web development skills (which I have previously learnt from a young age prior to IBM) to use, enhance these skills and produce a professional looking application which the client loves. I have now developed the majority of the User Interface for our application and I am now referred to on our project as the ‘UI web developer SME’ – subject matter expert!

That’s a little introduction to me, my background, how I got into IBM and an insight as to what I do in my job role. My future blog posts will be from a perspective of our community Connecting Women in IBM. I am currently the Connecting Women in Foundation Technical Team Leader and have also applied to become Connecting Women in Foundation Team Leader. I will be reporting more on our community and the roles within it and what we do as a community.

I look forward to sharing these experiences with you – keep an eye out for my future posts!

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Sean Bell – An introduction …

Hello everybody. My name is Sean Bell, I am 21 years old, and I have been an apprentice with IBM since August 2011. I have had a strong interest in both Business and Computers from an early age, and continued my education in both of these subjects through GCSE’s and A-Levels. However, when it came to making a decision on my future, I felt that I was not passionate about full time education anymore, and did not think that continuing with University would be something I would enjoy. As such, I decided that an apprenticeship that would allow me to develop my education and skills in both of these areas, as well as having hands-on training in real life high pressured situations would be something that I would really enjoy. And I was not wrong.

As part of the IBM Apprenticeship scheme, I spent my first 18 months on a role-rotation, working on a variety of roles that have allowed me to really get a grasp at how a project is run, and how the different parts of the project work together to provide a high quality service to the client.

My first role was as a Duty Technician – a role which involved monitoring the clients systems, which meant working a 24/7 complex shift pattern, involving 12 hour day, night and weekend shifts. This gave me an oversight to the workings of the system, and how different pieces of software connect to produce a fully functional application to meet the client’s needs and requirements.

My second role was Software Release Manager. In this role, I planned and implemented the maintenance releases of two types of bespoke software to the application. This required working with project management to secure an appropriate amount of resources to be able to test and implement the application updates, as well as working with Technical Management to ensure that each package was released and applied to the system in the best way possible, ensuring that any pre-requisites were highlighted before the implementation plans were highlighted, to ensure minimum impact to the client during scheduled outages. Despite wanting to go in a more technical direction within my career, I found it very useful at this stage of my career to go into a more business-type of role, as it gave me a greater appreciation for Service Management, and the work that they do in order to ensure that all technical releases are completed efficiently, and to the best of our ability. I would highly recommend taking a role similar to this to anyone interested in a technical career – as it allows you to see both sides of a release, and could prevent any possible conflict in the future.

My current role is, again, Duty Technician – only this time I am working on a much larger and more complex programme – consisting of a multitude of projects in order to become a Service Delivery Centre. As with my first venture into the life of a Duty Technician, I am working a variety of 24/7 shifts, however this is something I enjoy. In this role, I am responsible for monitoring systems for a variety of clients and projects, each with different specifications – to ensure that any issues are dealt with quickly, efficiently, and with minimum impact to the end user. To me, the greatest part of this role is the wealth of information I have learnt. As I can often be one of only two people contactable by users at any one time, I have had to improve my skills in the vast array of technologies that make up the systems – as I would be responsible for resolving any issues that could occur at any given moment (although there are Subject Matter Experts on call at all times, just in case). For me, I have found this an invaluable opportunity, as instead of focussing solely on one piece of technology, I have access to education, training, and hands-on experience with the entire experience.

To me, the IBM Apprenticeship scheme has been everything that I could have wanted, as someone leaving school with a desire to pursue a technical career. I have been able to get hands-on experience with some amazing technologies, talk to real-life clients, and improve my overall skillset at all times.

Ryan McManus – An introduction

My Name is Ryan McManus, I am 19 and I have been with IBM as an Apprentice since September 2012. I have worked in areas such as Project Management, Consultancy and Service Management and it’s safe to say every role has been an amazing experience.

I am now working on an Account in London executing a Service Delivery Initiative. I work within a team of 11 that all handle different work streams, all of which focus on improving and delivering the most high quality service as possible to the customer. Prior to that I worked as Service Manager in Preston, managing customer requests / changes to a database with over 93 million records.

I joined IBM after leaving Sixth Form at the age of 18. I knew straight away that University was not for me and that I wanted to jump straight into the world of work and get onto the job ladder. Extra fulltime study with no income was definitely not appealing to me and with all the university fees in the news, it solidified my decision to become an apprentice. I have always been highly motivated and I was set on gaining qualifications by doing on the job learning. I wanted to become a Project Manager but honestly didn’t know what area of expertise would suit me best. There are over 150,000 apprenticeship employers in over 200,000 locations – and apprenticeships cover more than 170 Industries – so I knew there was an opportunity out there, I just needed to find it!

I started to look at websites (like not going to Uni and Apprenticeships.org) and attended apprenticeship fairs. I had also signed up for announcements through colleges who would ring me up with offers that suited my expertise/ interests, which I thought was very helpful, but still nothing had grabbed my attention. I was researching apprenticeships on Google when I noticed that IBM offers an apprenticeship scheme. I read about the apprenticeship on their website and decided it was perfect. I knew that my skills could be applied and fully utilised in this company and I went through the application process and was a successful applicant!

From day 1 I knew that I had made the right decision by joining IBM. I made lots of new friends that I still keep in touch with and took part in a whole new experience. I moved somewhere that I had never been before and became independent and now heavily involved in the world of work. One thing that is amazing is that IBM is more than willing to give you responsibility if you want it and if you are able to prove yourself. They will provide you with endless opportunities and will do everything they can to help develop you. They put you through training courses, personal development plans, provide you with a Professional Development Manager and much more.… It all contributes to you being a key asset to the company and helping the company to meet and exceed its goals.

My top tips for applying for the apprenticeship would be:

  • You have to standout. Think what you can bring to the table that others can’t and what qualities you possess and how they can help the company to achieve its goals.
  • You should research the company – make sure you know what the company is about and ensure you look interested and do your homework on the background of the company.
  • Constantly link your real life examples to skill sets e.g teamwork and adaptability. Anyone can say that they are great at things, but prove it by linking it to examples!
  • Make sure you have real life examples; if you have no examples of you being better than the rest you should start gaining some, whether it is extra-curricular activities, volunteering, organising social events or setting up a small business, it all helps!
  • You should know why you are applying for an Apprenticeship within the company. Have a think why you are so attracted to the company and why you want to be a part of it.
  • Sell yourself. No one else is going to sell yourself for you. Don’t be embarrassed to state your achievements – what qualities do you have and why you would be perfect for the scheme.
  • I know everyone preaches “quality not quantity” but it truly is a key message. State strong, striking points that will grab the reader’s attention. You want the reader to think about the messages you are telling them, you don’t want them to skim read and overlook key points because they are reading so much invaluable information.

Are you ready to apply for an apprenticeship? Why not take part in the best apprenticeship around and winner of TargetJobs “Best Apprenticeship programme 2013” – Apply to IBM! If you’re not ready to apply, why not start working on your personal portfolio now!

It’s not just about your academic qualifications or work experience….what else can you bring to the table?

Adam Stankevitch – an Introduction …

 

Hello, a big welcome from me! My name is Adam, and I hope you enjoy reading about my experience as an IBM apprentice and take something positive away from it. I joined IBM in April 2014 so I am technically still classed as a new recruit to the company, but what I have learnt and experienced in this time is well worth sharing!

After leaving secondary school I decided to enrol on a BTEC National Diploma in IT practitioners’ course at my local college, which allowed me to explore the inner workings of computers and networking, something that I believe started my passion for the IT industry. The course allowed me to build my knowledge in computing and explore the potential channels I could pursue later in my career. It wasn’t until I started University the following year that I realised that classroom learning wasn’t for me anymore, so I decided to pursue something that I would find more rewarding; hence my search for an apprenticeship began. I have always known that an IT apprenticeship is a great way to start a career and you are able to earn a full salary at the same time, both of which University didn’t offer. I was made aware of the IBM Apprenticeship scheme through the website ‘Not Going To Uni’, which is where all of IBM’s impressive array of facts and figures really caught my eye. The reason I decided to apply for this particular scheme ahead of others of a similar nature was first and foremost for the reputation IBM has in the IT industry. In addition to this the structure of the Apprenticeship was another major factor I considered: I could gain industry recognised qualifications whilst earning and learning at the same time. The application process for the apprenticeship is very well organised, with each part of the process being well managed: from the original CV submission right through to the assessment centres. One thing that stood out for me during the assessment centre was that IBM ‘want’ you to become their apprentices – it was not like traditional interviews – rather a relaxed atmosphere for applicants to really show their best self.

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After being accepted onto the scheme I spent two weeks at a picturesque hotel enrolled onto IBM’s induction scheme. The induction was a real eye opener for me as this was the time where I had the opportunity to learn a lot more about what IBM is all about and what they expect of me. There were plenty of presentations and group work sessions to allow us all to give our views on a variety of topics.

I had the chance to meet some amazing people during my induction, all of which I am still in frequent contact with. This brings me on to my next point in fact, in which becoming an IBM Apprentice is probably the best way to meet a host of likeminded professionals and become part of a huge community from day one.

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After the two weeks was up, it was time to join the vast array of Apprentices’ already working with IBM clients right across the UK. My allocated client site was based in Preston and the job role revolves around Incident Management. I am part of the ‘triage team’ that deals with errors and malfunctions in business critical applications. As a result, there is plenty for me to learn from this role and I hope to establish a depth of knowledge on these applications in the coming months. IBM encourages apprentices to enter in a role rotation scheme in which it is possible to switch teams after 6 months, meaning the range of opportunities on offer is beyond anything you would likely find elsewhere.

IBM work with well established organisations in a variety of different sectors, so there is always the opportunity to pursue new roles on a regular basis. One aspect of working at IBM that I really enjoy is that everyone is on first name basis, regardless of position. This is a great way to create a more relaxed working environment and allows us as apprentice’s to feel part of a community from the start. Apprentices even become official IBMers from the off, which is something you will later learn is a worthy title to be given!

In this short space of time as an IBM apprentice I have experienced a bundle of new situations and found myself working with a lot of interesting people. I am positive that IBM will continue to provide me with the opportunities I need to pursue my career aspirations over the coming years, but for now I will keep you updated of how I’m progressing in my first few months as an IBM Apprentice.

Thanks for reading. See you soon!

 

Hollie Sauvage – An Introduction…

Hello, my name is Hollie, I am 21 years old and a new IBM recruit through the latest Apprenticeship intake in April 2014. Although based in Warwick, I am working on an IBM base working for one particular client in Preston.

I found out about the IBM Apprenticeship through a friend who has been an apprentice with IBM for over 2 years. He explained to me the many, many opportunities available, and the opportunity to follow nearly any career pathway within IBM. This was something that massively interested me, did not feel like a step back at all, and after having gone to college to do a degree if anything I’d wished I done it sooner!

My application to the IBM Apprenticeship started in November 2013. Initially, the first step was to complete and submit the application form and IBM provided CV. The next step was an online aptitude test, and then my CV was reviewed again, all before even being interviewed! The assessment centre involved group tasks, presentations and also interviews with many IBMers, which although scary, was a fantastic chance to meet some of the other apprentices helping out on the day, and finding out some more information about the Apprenticeship.

After all of that, I was accepted onto the Apprenticeship and started in April this year. My first two weeks as an IBMer involved a two week induction where we learnt all about IBM, the Apprenticeship scheme and got to know some of our fellow apprentices and other IBMers. I found induction to be a great opportunity for me to be able to learn some technical skills, something I didn’t have before joining IBM, and some of the IBMers who taught different courses on the induction were fantastic in teaching these technical skills. Most of the other apprentices on my induction were not technical apprentices either so it was good to all be in the same boat and not have to worry that my skills were behind anyone else. All of the other IBMers made us feel at ease that technical skills were not essential, and if needed most skills would be learnt on the job.

During induction, we also found out which projects we would be working on after induction. I found out I was working on a project in Preston, with one of the other apprentices I started on Induction with. This made my first day far less scary as I was starting with someone else. On induction, we also met another IBMer who works in our team in Preston (she was on a different course) and we were able to then find a little more out about the project, so that we had some more information on the project before we began.

My role within the project is incident management, so if a fault occurs within the clients systems, that fault information is then sent to us, where we pass it onto the relevant team to fix the fault. Since starting on the project, I have also had the opportunity to be able to support one of the Service Delivery Managers with a reporting task and also sign up for other training opportunities within the project, working with other teams.

Although I am still fairly new to the project, currently only 4 weeks in, I feel that my move to IBM is perfect in that it enables me to be able to take on new opportunities and roles, and move wherever my skills and experiences will allow me.

Welcome to the team…

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Clock-wise from top left: Sean Bell, Oliver Pope, Thomas Cope, Ryan McManus, Samuel Mcauley, Hollie Sauvage, Adam Stankevitch

“Beginnings are always messy” – John Galsworthy, Nobel Prize for Literature 1932

“And here. We. Go.” The Joker, played by Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Here’s to living up to those fine words … please welcome the new IBM Apprentice Blog team. Each one of the above photos belongs to an IBM Apprentice who is now an official author and contributor to the IBM Apprenticeship blog. Exciting stuff!

Watch this space for weekly blogs (starting next week with Hollie Sauvage) introducing you to the team, their roles, their experiences and anything else that makes for good reading! Make sure you keep an eye out as well for guest contributions on Sales School (I’m sure lots of learning was had!) and updates from the Connecting Women in Foundation project.

If you want to get involved, there’s still plenty of time, please contact Oliver Pope (olivpope@uk.ibm.com) to get your picture on the banner!

See you next week, it’s going to be great.