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.