What roles will I really be doing on my 3 years as an IBM Apprentice?

If you have read some of the other blogs on here you will know by now that the IBM apprenticeship does not consist of you making tea for your manager. After your induction training you get placed in a real role and deliver to a real client with the support around you to allow you to grow as an individual from the get go. When I was thinking of applying and when I had just started my apprenticeship, I had no idea what roles were available for me to gain experience in.  So, to prevent you having the same issue as me, I have listed some real examples of roles that are currently being fulfilled by graduates/ apprentices on my account, or roles that I have been involved in to give you a flavour of what you could get involved in.

Solution Analyst

Here you shall be required to work with the client to understand their business needs. You may have to represent your team by attending project inception meetings acting as a brief. Following this engagement you shall be required to put your investigation skills to the test and investigate their requirements via face to face Q & A meetings or interpreting Business and Technical documentation. This is just the start, as from this, you shall need to create a solution that meets their needs. The end result is that an estimate needs to be produced. So therefore you shall then need to associate this solution with a cost estimate and take them through various review cycles and then issue it to the project.

Who is this ideal for?

You don’t have to be technical but you have to be willing to learn technical aspects because technical knowledge will be required in this role. It is an ideal role for people who want to learn about technical aspects, but not into the depths of coding or detailed designing. You will gain an understanding of multiple roles within the project lifecycle via engaging with various stakeholders from both business and technical backgrounds. You can gain good exposure to key members of your centre. You are one of the first members of the centre projects who is engaged with,  so keeping up the centres reputation is everything in this role.

Release Manager

Different to Project Managing but building on the Solution Analysts initial solution, in this role you will face out directly to the client and be accountable for the safe delivery of your centres components that contribute to the client’s overall project.  You shall have to make sure delivery is on time and of high quality whilst managing internal and external communication via accurate and timely updates. This is achieved from management of Design, Development and testing teams within your centre. Not forgetting managing scope of your project as well as client expectations. After initial delivery is achieved you shall then be required to guide your team through support of the project until they have gone live with their whole solution, for which you shall co-ordinate the implementation of your components. After all of this you will have been expected to deliver on your commitments to the timeline and costs that you initially quoted.

Who is this ideal for?

Individuals who want exposure to multiple teams and can execute strong communication to multiple audiences. Technical understanding would help but is not vital. You need to make sure you can plan well and be both proactive and reactive to challenges that may arise. Someone who wants to understand about the majority of a project life cycle could have interest in this role.  Want something to build up to this role?…Why not try “project management office”.

Development Centre Designers

In this role you will have to take a Projects technical documentation to define the changes needed to existing components or scope out new components within your centre. The Projects are expected to be in a good enough position to provide your team with documentation that allows you to provide a sound, detailed design to fulfill their needs.  You shall be responsible for designing how a new component operates or how a changed component needs to now operate to fulfill the business/ technical requirement. Your team shall be led by a release manager but the release manager is very much reliant on you to deliver good quality deliverables required for later stages of the release. You shall be vital in maintaining the integrity of solutions built by your centre. You shall have to take your designs through review boards and then hand them off to other teams. You shall have to deal with multiple release managers and projects so you shall get a broad knowledge of the inflight changes being requested for your account.

Who is this ideal for?

This role is a step up from a Solution Analyst but within a different aspect of the project lifecycle.  It does require specialist knowledge to understand the design changes needed, but do not be put off by this as there are design roles that you can start up in. A good logical approach needed, along with problem solving abilities. Good quality delivery that is on time is key to maintain overall schedule.

Development Centre Developers

You are moving through the project life cycle now with a Developer role. Here you take the inputs provided by the design team and write code to actually create / amend the in scope component. This is where you get to really see your product come alive. You are responsible for the build and unit test of your component and supporting this through various testing phases to deal with any queries that may arise. Technical documentation production/ maintenance  is also a key aspect to this role to ensure your centre has a living asset that can be referenced for any further changes that need to be made to that component.   You shall also be required to support the centres testing team to set up their testing environment. Similar to the design team, your teams delivery shall be managed by the release manager, but again they are very much dependent on your specialist knowledge.

Who is this ideal for?

Development skills in certain languages are favourable, but again there are some roles which shall enable you to learn this. You need to deliver to your committed timescales and provide code that is structured in a logical and maintainable way, adhering to standards/ best practices.  This role can lead to other specialty areas and an experienced developer is definitely looked upon as key asset to any team.

Testing

You are the frontier to ensuring only quality products are released into projects or the live environment. There are many aspects and pathways in testing so this is a great area to explore. You take the solution the designers have designed, the developers have developed, and then prove that it’s everything they say it is. You have to take requirements and create your own testing scripts that make sure that you cover your testing scope. You shall have to work with environment services to set up the testing environments in preparation for your script execution. Design and Build teams may need to be consulted in setting up your tests or in the event of issues being found with their delivery. You need to accurately and clearly document your testing evidence and also if any issues are found within the code you are testing.

Who is this ideal for?

Someone who likes to try and find flaws with things no matter how many attempts or methods are required. It requires inquisitive individuals that are willing to understand the solutions to ensure it does exactly what it is supposed to by investigation.

Service Management

Here you get to see the final product of a project in action. A project can be set up to produce something and deliver it, but service management is there to make sure that what is produced is behaving how it should. If there are any requests or issues/ faults within this product once it is implemented, you have to make sure these are dealt with in an appropriate manner.  Whether this is managing communications with the client in which you delivered this product or coordinating with application maintenance teams to investigate / fix issues. Your aim is to allow the product that has been delivered to cause as minimum disruption as possible to its users.  You may have to work with multiple project managers to allow safe and timely handovers of projects into your control once they are delivered. You need to understand your systems function and have a defined and documented process to deal with situations that could arise once this becomes your responsibility to maintain.

Who is this ideal for?

It needs someone with good co-coordination/ communication skills and is not afraid to face out to key stakeholders/ clients.  Anyone that wants to understand applications that are built and fully functioning this may be of interest.  This role does still give you the opportunity to work with the teams that investigate / fix any issues so therefore you do get some high level technical understanding. Something to note is Service Management has roles within it to give you the opportunity to grow your understanding, before you step into a Service Manager role.

 

Other roles I could provide information about are: Project Management Office, Finance, Defect Management, Business Analysts, System Architects and Configuration managers.

Have you ever heard the phrase “a drop in the ocean”? Well bear that in mind as there are lots more accounts within the UK and lot more role types within IBM on offer!

Thinking of applying or thinking of changing roles within the apprenticeship?  If you want any more information about any of these roles then please do not hesitate to get in contact with me… (RYANMACM@UK.IBM.COM)

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