Monthly Archives: September 2014

Changing Roles by Hollie Sauvage

Hi everyone! Since my last update I have started working in a new service delivery centre in Farnborough, working with 5 different projects. It is a completely new opportunity for me and is a fantastic chance for me to be able to build on my skills and experiences.

In my new role, Change Manager, I work within a small team to manage the changes that take place on the applications and the hardware, not only for the multiple clients, but also internally in the office. It is my job to communicate these changes to the customer, and ensure that other suppliers that also provide similar support to the clients are also aware, so that their systems are not affected as well.

Although I am still very new to this role, the role itself looks to be challenging, and will require me to be able to learn many new skills, and will allow me to progress myself and my career not only for now, but for the future.

To help me with this role, I have also been working on some online courses through IBM, that will help me with Change Management that can be applied to every project, and there are loads of online courses available to choose from, that can be done anywhere at any time. A lot of these online courses are free to do, which makes it a great chance to pick up some new skills that will help you gain the knowledge to change of career route, or gain new knowledge in your current career pathway.

As well as working on this new and very exciting project, I am also still working on my current project in Preston, part time. Since doing my ITIL course, I have been able to apply some of this knowledge to the role in Preston, as well as my new role in Farnborough, and it has been very interesting to see how this Service Management Framework can apply to many different projects and situations.

As well as this, I have also become the Location Lead for the Warwick and Birmingham area. This giveback role means being the point of contact for schools and colleges in this area, and organising careers fairs and other events to promote the various IBM Foundation Schemes available to students, as it is not just Apprenticeships that are available!

Giveback is an excellent way within IBM to be able to take on new responsibilities outside your current role and Foundation, and to pass on some experiences and skills to other people, as well as helping local communities. There are many different Giveback opportunities available, so it is essentially up to you what you want to do to help, depending on the time, skills and experiences that you have!

For me, in the next couple of weeks and months, I will be able to build on my knowledge and experiences with some more essential education, as well as learning more about my new role, and taking the next step to moving to this project full time and transferring my current skills and experiences to this new role.

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Lewis Davies – An Introduction

Who, What, Where, Why, When and How? Apparently If I answer all these you’ll know everything about me which is exactly what I want to achieve with my first post. But first of all let me say thanks for reading and getting involved with both IBM foundation and the apprenticeship scheme. I hope to keep these posts mildly amusing for you all as well as of course keeping them informative.

Who am I?….I’m spider man! Just kidding I’m actually an apprentice who is nearing 2 years on the scheme now which sounds much longer than it actually feels. I joined IBM straight from college with full A levels in Economics Business Studies and 3 As Levels in History, Maths and Biology which leads me nicely to why? (I said I’d answer all those questions but there’s no guarantee of what order they will come in and for that I apologies. Let’s say the questions are coming in an “Agile” or “Dynamic” style and score a few points on the buzzword bingo?)

Why the IBM apprenticeship? My decision making on what I truly wanted to pursue at university was utterly terrible and I’ll be honest I was starting to lose sleep over the issue. I hadn’t really considered alternatives to university at all and as a result I almost embarked on a 3rd year at college to complete a full maths A-level to enable me to go on and study Macroeconomics. I had started to come to terms with the sorry fact I would be staying at college for one more year while my peers would be out partying for fresher’s week when an IBM apprentice came to my college and explained what the scheme involved and how well I could progress. Credit where its due Joseph Winter – you sold it to me well and I was determined from here on to get on to this great scheme!

So what do I do? I started the apprenticeship as a Change Analyst (after spending half a day comprehending what that title even meant!). I quickly picked up the reigns and was out chasing stakeholders for impact assessments and providing daily updates to the accounts big dogs which was all rather scary at first until I remembered I wasn’t on the young apprentice and Lord Sugar couldn’t fire me for making the odd slip up. My next role was in Asset and License Management. Most of my time in IBM has been performing this role and it has given me some good opportunities to get some externally recognised certification in ITIL and Smart cloud control desk as well as allowing me to travel to various IBM and non IBM sites. My next venture is just starting as I am due to join my accounts (a public sector Shared Service Delivery) infrastructure team where I will be specialising in networking again (with more scope for a few Cisco qualifications there!).

Anyway research shows your attention will start to dwindle around the 500 word limit which is exactly on that 500 back there in bold, so if you’re still reading congratulations you have a really long attention span and I can vouch for you receiving a 1 or 2+ this year (internal IBM ratings for annual performance). Although I didn’t manage to get through all those questions I’m sure you get my drift when I say that choosing the apprenticeship scheme was easily the best decision I’ve ever made and I look forward to telling you all about my experiences in my new role and life as an apprentice through this blog.

All the best, Lewis

Graduation by Oliver Pope-Mostowicz

You will have likely seen that last month the largest cohort of Apprentices (so far) graduated from their Level 3 Apprenticeship.  Congratulations to all that did, and here’s to looking forward to even bigger and better things!

Below is a post that I wrote about the day – the actual experience, and what it has inspired me (and I hope everyone else who graduated) to look forward to …. Enjoy!

The Client Centre at IBM SouthBank has hosted innumerable events, exhibits and attractions. On Friday 1st August, it added another event to its’ prestigious past – the graduation of 37 IBM Apprentices from their OCR Level 3 Apprenticeship Qualification.

This event marked the end of two years of industry experience, education and hard work from the 37 young men and women in attendance and formally recognised their continued progression from students to professionals, in one of the largest industries in the modern world in a leading organisation in that industry.

The event was hosted by the ‘Foundation’ branch of IBM (the umbrella area that covers Apprentices, Graduates and Interns) and with notable guests such as David Stokes (the UKI General Manager of IBM), Tony Dawson (Director of Maintenance and Technical Support for UKI – my Line of Business executive manager!) and Jenny Taylor (UK Graduate, Apprenticeship and Student Programme Manager). The day included a chance to network with colleagues (who were also graduating), managers and parents, a speech from David Stokes on the importance of the Apprenticeship scheme (and each Apprentice) in the modern technological and economic climate and the awarding of certificates to each Apprentice (and of course, a buffet lunch!).

The IBM Apprenticeship has consistently won awards of recognition for the excellent work it does, and the quality of the scheme that (at only 3 years old) is ushering the next generation of IBMers into the technology business. However, Friday was not about the scheme, but recognition of the individuals themselves who, for two years, have been working and learning to get themselves to this point. Receiving their formal certification from David Stokes, each Apprentice was recognised by all present for the work that they had already put in, and no doubt, the work and achievements that await them in the future. However, as David Stokes said on the day, “When you’ve got nothing left to learn, it’s time to hit the golf course” so I’d like to take a few moments of your time to reflect on the meaning of this day to me – one of the Apprentices that graduated – and what this means for my future.

I have enjoyed the IBM Apprenticeship immensely so far – it has offered me opportunities I never would have imagined, I have met people that I would never had the chance to in any other walk of life and I have learnt new, and developed existing, skills that I am certain will afford me a career that I have always desired. For me, graduating on Friday was one of the proudest achievements of my life so far. This sounds a little grand and silly to write in public, but after opting out of University – initially without a real alternative in mind – I was certain I had lost my opportunity to make something of myself and have a career I could look back on with pride. Graduating on Friday marked a validation of my choices and actions and is, to me if nobody else, motivation to keep pushing, to keep learning and to see just how far this path can take me (don’t tell David Stokes, but one day I’ll be applying for his job!).

Whilst the graduation is just one step on this path – I am still an Apprentice at IBM, now working towards my Level 4 qualification which I hope to complete is around one years time – the 1st August 2014 will be one of those dates in my history that I will be able to look back on and say concretely: “that was it, that was the moment I actually realised I could make something of this life”.

I am an ambitious guy with a number of goals (some more realistic than others I have to admit!) both short and long term. The graduation of Friday was one of the ones I set when I started on this path on 10th September 2012 and now here I am. Which begs the question what next, and more importantly – what can’t I achieve? Or more eloquently, in the words of Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker: “why work that hard, why put yourself through the push ups and the disciplines, why? … Good question why … Best answer to why, I think, is the second question, why not? … Why not you?

How to ace that all important interview by Ryan McManus

Many people get worried when it comes to thinking about interviews and how well they will cope. I am hoping to share a few top tips for preparing for them and how to cope when you are finally in the interviews…..because after all, it could be make or break!

Before the Interview

Before the interview it is always good to memorise as many of your key qualities and traits as you can. This gives you lots of flexibility to link them to your responses to the questions the interviewer will ask. Same goes with real life examples. What have you done better than others? Get them listed down and memorised, as you will need them to impress the interviewer!

If you’re asked to prepare a presentation or speech for an interview, think of it as a positive. It gives you a chance to steer the interview. The best thing to reduce your nerves is to practice until you feel comfortable that you cannot do it better (If you fail to prepare you are preparing to fail.) Notes will not be frowned upon as long as you focus on your audience and don’t read in to your notes! Make sure you rehearse the presentation; get someone to watch and make notes and comment back to you. It’s amazing how many errors you pick up by reading it over yourself. Time your presentation as running too much over is not good and you may be cut short, but also running too much under can also portray a lack of planning. Giving the interviewer hand-outs it demonstrates your organisation.

Dress suitably for the job you have applied for. If it is a well-respected company and all of the workers dress in suits, don’t turn up in your joggers/jeans and expect to be offered the job. It’s better to over dress than under dress. If it’s your first time in a suit and tie and you feel stupid …don’t worry, everyone else probably feels the same way too! Clean and polished shoes are always a must and a belt always helps to smarten things up.

Neat hair – Both on your head and on your face. The first thing the interviewer will look at is you so look presentable. (You have 7 Seconds to make a first impression)

Don’t use too much aftershave/perfume. It’s always good to smell nice but if you’re wearing that much that the interviewer eyes are watering, it’s probably not given the best first impression.

Sweaty palms – There is not much you can do about it and don’t let it put you off one bit, but if you can maybe run your hands under the cold tap before the interview to try and suppress it, it may help.

Bad breath is something that can be helped – Maybe take mints instead of chewing gum as you want your breath to smell nice but don’t want to be chewing when you are being interviewed.

Make sure you try to get lots of sleep the night before. Although the nerves might be kicking in and every sentence and question is running through your head, try and go to the interview with a fresh, rested mind.

Take a pen with you – It’s not always needed but if you do need it, it gives off a sign that you have come prepared.

If you’re asked to provide references make sure they are reliable and ensure they have good written and language skills.

In the Interview (What to expect)

Different interviews can take different forms so read though the below and just apply the tips that you think are most relevant for the type of interview you have been asked to do.

Always ensure that you act confident. Interviewers will understand that you are nervous as everyone is, but don’t mumble or be shy when answering them. They are not there to catch you out, they want a genuine conversation with you and are not there to make you worry or shy. If you are standing for a while, whether presenting or waiting etc don’t slouch or lean against the wall, put yourself though the pain of standing normally for those few minutes.

Have good eye contact with the interviewer, don’t stare at them but on the other hand don’t stare at the floor constantly (or out of the window!) – get the balance right.

If there is a large interview audience don’t be fazed by it. Try and speak to them all when responding and not just focus on one person. Think of it as more people to impress.

Don’t fidget. Whether sitting down or standing up, there is nothing more off putting for an interviewer than to watch someone rocking their chair or tapping their leg.

If you get a “personal interview”:they just want to know about you, and genuinely just about you as a person.

Don’t give up if you get stuck on a question. A short pause might seem like 2 minutes to you at the time, but in reality its only 2 seconds and the interviewer hasn’t even noticed.

Don’t give up on rejection. If you don’t succeed in the first interview, don’t get disheartened. Learn from the mistakes and build upon it to move you onto bigger and better things.

Some things you just can’t prepare for. If you can’t change or affect something …don’t worry about it!

Hope it helps!

My other blog “Tips for applying for an apprenticeship” is also on here, which covers points for the initial stage of the application process and some of the points covered there will also help you out for interviews so why not check that out.