My Placement Year at IBM – Maddie Coutts

Hi everyone! I’ve been asked to write a guest post for you all seeing as I’ve been a member of the behind-the-scenes blogging team. So here goes…

I’m currently in my third year at the University of Leeds studying BA Management and as part of my course I opted to do a placement year/year in industry. I chose to go to University because it was a better fit for myself and I wanted to continue my education whilst playing hockey for one of the top teams in the country. However, from the start I knew I wanted to do a placement year because I think gaining real work experience is one of the most valuable things you can do.

So I did what anyone looking for a job does … began searching! IBM was the first application I completed because the name had always been on my mind and I was impressed to see they offered a Marketing placement. From then on, whilst waiting to hear if I’d successfully passed the IPAT test, I filled out more applications for other companies. After a successful assessment centre, which was so much more relaxed than I would have thought, I entered the ‘matching’ process. The first match was quite a Technical Marketing role (yes it does exist!) down in Hursley, however, my first preference was for the Southbank office. This was one of the trickiest decisions I have made to date – do I accept the job even though my heart was set on working in London or do I risk not finding a placement and reject it? Well that’s the great thing about IBM – if you say no they will try and find you another match (although not always guaranteed) and that’s what happened.

My role during my placement year has been the Schools & Universities Attractions Coordinator which basically means I am responsible for the marketing activities to attract candidates to IBM. A lot of this is social media based, generating all content for Facebook and Twitter, alongside managing our careers website and creating promotional videos. I also work closely with companies such as Rate My Apprenticeship and Target Jobs and I create our online profile and any adverts we have on their sites. At first I found this challenging as it required extensive use of Photoshop however IBM were supportive in helping me acquire this skill.

Being an intern means that like Apprentices and Graduates I am part of Foundation. This is a great programme because, even within such a large organisation, there’s a real feeling of community among the ‘younger’ IBMers and there are always social activities going on across all schemes at each location. I have also found myself attend lots of Giveback events with IBMers from different schemes and backgrounds so this is another great way to network.

Some highlights for me during my year at IBM have been attending the Target Jobs Awards (where we won Best Apprenticeship Programme 2016!) which is where the picture below was taken. I’ve also had to start thinking of which area of IBM I would like to come back into as a Graduate. Watson is one of the most dynamic parts of IBM right now and I would love to come back into this area. As a result of networking and just putting my name out there, the Watson team invited me out to Lisbon to help run an event. This was really amazing because not only did I spend a few days abroad, but I worked closely with executives and partners and the advice I received was invaluable. I also have a pretty exciting end to my year – I’m working at Wimbledon! This was not easy to get as I had to attend an assessment centre against my peers which was slightly strange. But I’m very excited to experience Wimbledon and the amazing partnership they have with IBM.

TJ4

So that’s just a very (very) short summary of my jam packed placement year at IBM. As you can see from my experiences there are a wide range of things to get involved in outside of your role and if I had to give any advice after a year in industry – take control of your future. It’s up to you to put yourself out there and try something different and no matter how you enter IBM, as an Intern, Apprentice or Graduate, I guarantee there will always be support and encouragement from those IBMers around you.

Thanks for having a read and feel free to message me on LinkedIn!

Maddie Coutts

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