Hello and thank you for taking time out of your day to read my post on being an IBM Apprentice. I am Craig Wilkinson and have been an IBM Apprentice since October 2013. I am currently a Test Analyst working on the largest test account in Europe for one of Britain’s (and the world’s) biggest Building Societies – but we will get to this later.
You’re probably eager to know how I came across the IBM Apprenticeship scheme and the reason why I applied but first a bit of background is in order. From an early age I had a keen interest in technology and, especially, computers. When I was born in 1993 (2 millennia’s in technology years), the latest technology fashions were mainly Windows 3.1 and Nintendo’s NES. As I’ve grown up, so has technology, and this fascination has carried on throughout my school and college years influencing my studies. However, finishing college I wasn’t sure whether I was heading straight into work or continuing with my studies and going to university. My exact thoughts at the time were ‘I always want to be learning about the IT industry, but I also want to start earning my own way’. Then in my last two weeks at college, a presentation on the IBM Apprenticeship came along.
After attending the IBM Apprenticeship presentation, I decided it was definitely a career path which could get me a solid grounding into the industry; an Apprenticeship that would a) give me valuable training, qualifications and insight into the IT industry, b) provide a salary so I can start earning my way and c) work for one of the world’s biggest multi-national IT and Business Consultancy Services companies. My application to be an IBM Apprentice began from this point; my first step was to complete the IBM CV. Post completion of the CV, I was then invited to take the online aptitude assessment. After completing the aptitude test, my CV was then reviewed and I was subsequently invited to an assessment centre in North Harbour (Portsmouth). Although previously anxious, I found the assessment centre to be quite relaxed and enjoyable which helped me prepare to do my best in the business interview, one-on-one presentation and group exercises. Sometime after participating in the assessment centre, I was delighted to learn that I performed well and had got onto the IBM Apprenticeship and furthermore, IBM.
The start of my (and every other new starters) career as an IBM Apprentice began with a two week induction where my starter group and I had chances to learn and test skills which would be essential within IBM. These included presenting, speaking with clients, working with all different types of people, learning technical knowledge and methodologies, understanding IBMs many offerings and services and working in teams. While performing the aforementioned activities, it was the perfect opportunity to work in teams and get to know the rest of the Apprentices and start to build a support network. Induction was also a great opportunity to ask questions, make mistakes and learn from them and learn all about IBM using the expertise of the PDMs and other IBMers around.
In the last week of induction, I had learned that I had been assigned to a Test Analyst role at Britain’s biggest Building Society, which surprised me as Testing was an aspect of IT I had no experience in. When I first started the role, I was anxious with what to expect; I had just joined this big organisation and am being sent to a client site in an unknown place with unknown people to do work I had very little knowledge about. This was also my first real time away from my home, family and friends so this was a big change which, fortunately, I quickly got used to with the help of the Foundation community in Swindon.
Being a Test Analyst, my main role is to perform test execution cycles against a solution built for the Client but other responsibilities include assisting with test preparation, defect reporting and management, smoke and regression testing, knowledge documentation, test documentation and analysing systems to find problems. I also have knowledge on specialist anti-fraud systems and architecture which allows me to assist other projects and aid their test preparation and problem troubleshooting. Every day is different and there’s a lot to learn and there is a real sense of achievement when others appreciate and utilise your knowledge and expertise and, of course, when you exit the testing phase of the product lifecycle successfully!
That’s enough about me and what I do, I hope my experience of being an Apprentice at IBM has been an interesting insight for you and, hopefully, answers some questions you may have had. If you are thinking of applying, or are currently in the application process, then my two top pieces of advice are 1) make sure you double check your CV before you send it in and 2) always be yourself throughout the whole application process and your time at IBM.
Thanks again for taking time to read about my experiences, I look forward to posting again soon.