Monthly Archives: July 2014

Josh White – An introduction …

Hi everyone. My name is Josh and I have been an IBM Apprentice since February 2013. My situation is a little different to most other Apprentices as I did not join IBM straight after finishing my A Levels or College, I had been working for 2 and a half years in various industries before taking on the Scheme – that should give you a good indication that this is not just any Apprenticeship Scheme, this is the IBM Apprenticeship scheme.

Like many of you reading this post, I had the dated perception of an Apprenticeship where you got taken on by a company, trained up in a specific trade and paid minimum wage for your efforts. Well, I can tell you now Apprenticeships, in IBM’s case anyway, couldn’t be further from that. I was fortunate enough in October 2013 to attend an Apprenticeship event that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, attended to talk cameronabout the Schemes and answer questions the Apprentices from various industries had. The key message taken from that event was that the Government was looking to re-brand the Schemes as a popular post-school/college choice. One other message taken from the event was that the Schemes need to be more Company led, rather than Apprenticeship programmes being dictated by Examining Boards. This is where IBM has an upper hand on a lot of companies who have an Apprenticeship Scheme and I will explain more below.

Since joining IBM in February 2013 I have had 2 roles (currently transitioning into my 3rd role) in the company. My first role was as a Change Manager where I was responsible for making sure the IBM managed applications on the project that needed fixing/updating were done properly and the correct processes were followed. I was a little surprised when I was offered this role because it was a fairly senior role for an Apprentice which enhanced my good first impressions of the scheme as I was being trusted to do a good job – almost making me feel like I was not an Apprentice, I was a normal IBM professional. This is one of the benefits of the IBM Scheme, you are made to feel an equal within the team. It doesn’t matter if you are an Apprentice, a Graduate or an experienced IBMer, if you are given a role you have the chance to perform that role and even expand that role to the best of your abilities. I was even responsible for training up an experienced member of IBM to take over my role when I moved on from it – surely it should be the other way round?

When I was offered the role I found out it was in Preston. I don’t live in Preston, I presumed the role was going to be in Warwick near to where I live. I quickly got to know that you could be on a project anywhere and being versatile was a key skill to have and also having the willingness to step out of your comfort zone. It was a great experience for me being away from home, there was a good community on the project as a lot of other people were away from home as well.

My second role, which I started in November 2013 was supporting the Lead Business Analyst with the management of the BA team on a major project. This role was back in the Midlands where I lived so was back at home again which made me realise how much fun I had in Preston away from home but it was nice to be back. This role was a little different from my other role as I was not replacing anyone, the role had been created and I was the first person to fill it – I had the chance to make it my own and develop in which I have done. Developing the role has now given me the chance to learn new skills as a Business Analyst as I have developed my support role from a 5 day a week role to a 3 day a week role so for my other 2 days I am working on 2 other projects as a Business Analyst which I will work on full time soon.

Around my roles in IBM I have my Apprenticeship qualifications to complete – these are all done within IBM by on the job learning and IBM courses. The Apprenticeship scheme is designed by IBM, for IBM. This is where IBM has the upper hand on other companies (linking back in with how the Government is trying to transform the Schemes). IBM knows what skills it needs so the scheme has been designed to give its Apprentices those skills, the recognised qualifications and also pay us for learning those skills – win, win, win. Essentially the scheme at IBM is a way of enhancing your career as an alternative to University and getting paid for doing so.

Hopefully by reading this you have become more intrigued about the Apprentice Scheme at IBM – If so I encourage to read the other posts below by IBM colleagues and get someone elses perspective or even read the interview I did with Youth Employment UK – http://issuu.com/youthemploymentukcic/docs/yeuk-magazine_jun2014_final/25?e=0. Oh, and of course apply here – http://www-05.ibm.com/employment/uk/school-leavers/apprentice/.

Happy reading, Josh.

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Thomas Cope – An introduction…

Hello it’s me, Tom.C!

I am an Apprentice working as an “AIX and Infrastructure and Security specialist” at IBM. Now you’re probably thinking to yourself; what on earth is AIX? Well AIX is IBM’s UNIX operating system – it’s like Linux (but I prefer AIX!). You can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_AIX or http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/power/software/aix/about.html . So what do I do exactly? Well one of the great things about the IBM Apprenticeship is that you can do a lot of different things; I help to support, maintain and upgrade 300 servers on my project, I help with project security and writing scripts / programs. I have also worked as a design architect and performance analyst.pbox

So that’s what I do in a nut shell. What about me? So my name is Thomas Cope. I’m a gaming / inventing / programming enthusiast. I enjoy Team Fortress 2 , Minecraft and Garry’s Mod. I spend my free time tinkering with my IBM P-series server (shown below) or creating Java, C, C# applications.

I have created my own programming language using C++ and recreated HACMP (an IBM product) for Minecraft. This means you can share a server with a friend and when one of you goes offline the server will move off their computer and on to yours so your Minecraft server will always stay online. I have created my own command line computer using my Arduino which is attached to the printer and willarduinoOS print off my to-do list everyday so I know what I need to do that day.

As you might have guessed I’m a bit of a techie and that’s the reason why I decided to go for the IBM apprenticeship – it is the one place knew I could get a hands on experience. It was recommended to me both by my college and by my parents, So I decided to give it a go. I filled out the online form, sent it off and hoped for the best. Lo and behold I got to the next stage where I performed an aptitude test online. After that I went to an Assessment centre at IBM Southbank (London) where I had to give a personal presentation, partake in a business interview and attend some group activity’s. In the group activities we had to work as a team to solve logic problems.

After a couple of weeks I received a phone call to say I had been accepted into IBM!

So where am I now? Well due to the diversity of IBM I have tried a lot of new things; I have performed hardware maintenance at multiple data centres, installing IBM P-series / Linux Blades / Disk arrays. I have built an entire operating environment, architect a solution for a new project, performed performance analytics and created a document for the client. I have programmed in different languages, creating innovative applications to help both myself and the project to perform better and complete tasks quicker. Examples of this are ASP which can search 1,000 of log files to find error codes for faster debugging, AIXadmin which can perform LDAP and local account administration tasks to help users login more easily and an automatic “Build Compliance” checker to make sure servers are kept within strict guidelines.

Last and definitely not least thanks to the apprenticeship I have been able to attend multiple programming courses in C, C++,C# and Java as well as IBM products such as TDS (Tivoli Directory Server), along with gaining massive amounts of hands on experience.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post and I look forward to posting more in the future.

—That was me Tom.C.

Sam Mcauley – An introduction …

Hi there! I’m Sam – I’m a regular 21 year old from the South of England. If I’m honest, before I started at IBM I knew very little about it; other than the fact that they dealt with computers, it was an international corporation and I have at least one family member who has worked at their UK HQ in North Harbour.

Throughout school I always struggled with what I wanted to be when I grew up, I never really hated any subject, but in the same vein nothing really stood out for me. I was encouraged to go down a few different niche educational routes by teachers, parents, family friends – the lot. I eventually came to the conclusion that maybe formal education isn’t the only option, and although I did have a job at the time, it was most certainly not as fulfilling as I would have liked. So I did some research; went to independent careers fairs and looked online …

Finally, I was able to short list a number of potential jobs that I was qualified for and looked like something I would stick at. After reading up more about each one it was pretty clear that an IBM apprenticeship was the best choice – not only does it offer ongoing learning (which you can tailor to your aspirations), a competitive starting salary and opportunities for progression but also (something that particularly appealed to me) the chance to relocate, so you can experience different cities, whilst working.

The only thing that I considered something that would put me off applying is that I didn’t have any kind of technical background and the Apprenticeship was for a ‘Technical Solutions Specialist’. However, I applied nonetheless and then all there was to do was wait. A few weeks after putting forward my application I was invited to attend an assessment centre at IBM’s Hursley location, in Winchester. So for the first time since my GCSE leavers prom – I put on a suit, complete with smart trousers, shiny shoes and a flashy tie. I woke up at 6am in order to get a train to Winchester at 6:45. On the way up there, I sat on the train going over all the notes I’d made in the previous weeks; worrying about what the assessors were going to ask me, how I would compare to the other candidates, thinking in my head over and over that I was going to make a huge fool of myself and have to slink off with my tail between my legs within the first hour.

However, after getting over the initial cold feet that I had – I got the chance to talk to some of the other prospective apprentices. This was possibly one of the most reassuring experiences I could have hoped for. I don’t know what I was expecting, but seeing that everyone in that room was clearly in a similar boat to me gave me the chance to fully compose myself and be prepared for what I needed to do to prove myself enough to become an IBMer.

What I’m trying to convey here is that as long as you’ve met the requirements and are keen to be a part of the company, it doesn’t matter if you’re hugely technical or not – You have the opportunity to migrate from role to role, broadening your skill set and making ties with your colleagues. This apprenticeship gives you a chance to work with highly skilled and extremely knowledgeable people – and just being in that kind of environment enhances your receptiveness, aids your development and moulds your character.

I’ve personally felt that from the age of about 15 years old my school, my family and a lot of my friends have decided that the only route to follow after GCSE’s is to head towards University, even if you’re not fully sure what you want to do. When I mentioned to a few of my friends that I was going to embark on an apprenticeship course I received a lot of funny looks and sarcastic comments – ONE OF WHICH BEING: ‘You’re going to become a carpenter, like Jesus or something?’, which just said it all for me: they didn’t have faith in my decision and weren’t hugely supportive.

Something I learnt within the first week of induction at IBM is that there is always opposition to change. People want to follow the ‘known route’, the path of least resistance – the question is, are you willing to be a wild duck (one of IBM’s stated practices is to ‘treasue wild ducks’!), to be innovative and open to new ideas in order to change yourself and others for the better?