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?


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