Firstly, I feel as though I should introduce myself – I’m Will Spiers, first time blogger and fresh apprentice, with only a year at IBM so far! For this post I am going to discuss my opinion and experience of the IBM Apprenticeship scheme, the good bits and the bad bits (are there any genuine pitfalls… we shall see).
So, how did I end up here, and why? After leaving college with my newly achieved A levels in Business, Statistics and Geography, (no IT based subjects I hear you say… let’s broach that one later!) I was left with two choices: university or a full-time job. Whilst I had the grades for university, there was no subject I felt passionate enough about to be certain I wanted to chuck tens of thousands of pounds – and years of my life – at. So I was left with the full-time job option – let a life-time of standard 9-5s begin! Initially I took to full time work in a label printing business, which in my mind was only temporary, and during this time my awareness of Apprenticeships grew and I began trawling through the National Apprenticeship website on almost a daily basis. However, for the most part I still remained uninspired. I wanted something with the potential to try new things, and many of the more traditional “trade” Apprenticeships (in industries like electrics and carpentry) did not interest me. Persistence was key though, as eventually I stumbled across the IBM offering – the name pulled me in initially, followed by the description and what seemed like potential for varying opportunities.
In order to leave you with a nice positive feeling of the scheme I thought it best to start with the pitfalls – are there any?! Well truthfully for me yes there are some… is any scenario perfect? But (and that’s a big but) they are minor and apply to Apprenticeships generally rather than specifically the IBM scheme. Firstly, it’s the age old one of not moving out of home like you do when you go to University, which it seems these days is becoming almost a rite of passage! However, with the IBM scheme there are so many opportunities to travel and move around, and this has almost faded away for myself, and hey for some this may be a positive. Secondly – and I think what follows may be slightly obvious, so I’ll just come out with it – the Holidays! There are no more 8 weeks plus off in the summer, but I’m getting used to it! As you may have noted these are some pretty minor gripes and none actually apply to the Apprenticeship specifically, more work in general, which I think speaks volumes as to how good the scheme has been for me so far.
Moving on to the positives, which certainly come to me more easily than the negatives. Let’s start with something I mentioned previously – my lack of IT qualifications. Coming into the scheme this is something I thought may hinder me, however, everything I’ve needed to learn has been taken from the very basics. This is a great attribute to the scheme for me and it’s allowed me to try my hand at something new. Alongside this it’s not just technical opportunities, there are many different aspects and lots of more business-style roles to explore if this is your thing. In addition, the potential for change is one of the most significant benefits to me. Despite having only been here a year so far, it is already becoming apparent that I have so many different options for learning and career paths, be it technical, managerial etc. For me, at only 21 years of age, this is so important. Personally I feel these days it’s an early stage in my life to commit to a lifelong career, so having these options has really helped me not feel trapped down one specific career path with no opportunity for lateral progression or change! Now I could go on for a fair while about the positives of the scheme, but I want to keep it fairly brief, so allow me to just explore one more. The people! Being at IBM gives you the opportunity to draw knowledge from willing, industry-leading experts in so many different fields. This means that any subject I want to explore, I am almost certain there will have been people at IBM who have been down that road before and are now experts, and in my experience these people always seem happy to help and encourage.
I want to finish this post with one last note. When I first became involved in the blog, I took some time out to read through many of the previous posts, and the thing that really stood out to me was the achievements of some of the other bloggers who have been around a bit longer. It really highlights what’s possible with some hard work and the opportunities the scheme has to offer!