What do Apprentices do? Tea and Coffee? – Josh Abrahams

Even now, with the Government putting more and more into backing Apprenticeships, many young people are still afraid that they will be condemned to a life of making tea and coffee. Whilst this may be true for some older Apprenticeships, but any one from a modern Apprenticeship scheme, such as ours here at IBM, will be more than happy to let you know this is simply not the case. I learnt this very early on in my career, my first day after induction in fact. Fifteen minutes had gone by since I had met my new colleagues; I was already in “trouble” for offering a drink to the Technical lead of the team when I went to go get one. I was just being polite, but they wanted to make it clear, Apprentices are not tea boys/girls.

Here at IBM, as with most, the Apprentice is given real responsibilities from the get go. During my brief two and a half years here I have been in three different roles which I’ll talk a little bit about now. Each had their ups and downs however in all of my roles, I have felt I have been delivering meaningful and valuable work.

For my first role in the company, I was placed as part team which supports Rational products, (Rational is brand of software IBM own,) I worked in three different locations during this time, supporting both internal and external customers. I worked on data migrations, configuration management, software upgrades and installs, user administration & general errors from users. I helped to develop bespoke changes to tools used by the customer, developing, testing & working through error codes and finally implementing. I held demonstration sessions for customers & fellow IBMers alike, this list goes on – but all of these pieces of work left me feeling like I had added value to IBM and to our customers.

The second role I took on was a progression of the first. After being in the support team for just over a year, I was promoted to Support Team Lead, taking on managerial responsibilities over our team of six, four offshore guys and two onshore. It was my responsibility to ensure the level of service we were delivering did not slip. I would hold service review meetings with the team, looking at sets of reports I created, organise shift rotas & holidays and train the team in weak areas (Which is surprisingly harder than it seems.) I was the first point of call for customer issues & quereies, I would help to work out solutions & price up any new work. I would talk through the customers first days & train them in correct tool usage. Whenever the team were going through upgrades, I would coordinate the process, design testing and be the face of the team in international calls with hosting providers and customers. All on top of my previous responsibilities – two roles down and still no tea or coffee.

My most recent and current role saw me move from being based in the South to being based in the even sunnier haven of Manchester City Centre! After my brief stint of experience management/service delivery, I decided to move away from Technical and learn other aspects of the business, with the end goal of becoming a Service Delivery Manager or work in Project Management. I am currently PMO (Programme Management Office) on one of our Financial Sector accounts. The PMO works closely with the Project Manager and Programme Governance teams and maintains various aspects of the account, such as onboarding, leavers & training. I work with the Commercial team & aid in ensuring accurate forecasting and billing and writing Statements of Work and contracts. It is my job to create a set of reports for the account which show IBM’s current status, our issues, risks, progress. I’m also aiding in ensuring our release is on track, attending meetings discussing progress, making schedules etc. Of course I haven’t left my Rational skills completely behind, I’m also Rational Administrator for the account.

These are just the three roles I have done in my time here at IBM as an Apprentice so far. Although each Apprentice will be doing different jobs and no two Apprentice experience at IBM are the same, as you find the role you want to be doing. None the less the work you will be doing will be beneficial to your career & be meaningful. I hear of so many people in office jobs complain that their life has no meaning, the work that they do has no meaning and that must be the worst, especially if that were to come from an Apprentice. At IBM I have meaning, I have purpose and I do not make tea or coffee for anyone. *

*  (Except myself)

Josh Abrahams

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