Category Archives: School Leavers

Cool things IBM does! Find out from our Apprentices some of the cool things IBM does!

IBM works broadly on Nanotechnology in a wide range of areas, I find it incredibly interesting as we move into the future, consumers are wanting smaller and smaller tech to make life easier and nanotechnology is helping this. Find out more

~ Gus Parkhouse

One thing I find interesting, is just how much we all come in to contact with something IBM has done on a daily basis, without necessarily knowing. For example, if you use your debit card to buy lunch, the chances are there is an IBM Product or Service involved in that transaction somewhere (in most cases at least). It’s this behind the scenes contribution that I’ve found interesting since joining IBM, as it prompts you to consider things you’ve never thought about before and you suddenly start realising just how much IBM do! Find out more here

~William Spiers

IBM is collaborating with car makers BMW to explore the use of Watson, IBM’s Artificial Intelligence technology in future BMW vehicles. The aim of this partnership is to work together to see how to improve and embed artificial intelligence in cars of tomorrow to make the overall driver experience better. Prototypes are being worked on right now in Germany and include things like:

  • Drivers beginning to ask questions to the vehicle in natural language while they are driving, enabling them to safely focus on the road while they interact with the vehicle
  • Incorporating real-time weather and traffic data to make route recommendations to the driver as he/she is driving
  • Learning about the driver’s preferences, needs and driving habits and the car adapts to these things as they change over time
    IBM & BMW Video

~ Richard Cure

IBM has a huge ‘women in tech’ community, which supports and celebrates the achievements of women who have pursued a career in technology. The community hosts many events throughout the year to encourage networking and career development for all women across IBM. This is one small part of what makes IBM such an inclusive place to work. Find out more

~ Sarah Naylor

Internally there are a lot of interesting people you wouldn’t meet outside of the company, who do amazing things. We have master inventors who come up with ideas and quite literally invent things (obvious I know), that you wouldn’t see outside of IBM and I feel should be shown off a lot more than it is. There are a lot of people doing a lot of great work in this company and a lot of the time, it’s hidden behind the veil of business to the general public.

~ John Longworth

Most people that look into IBM know about WATSON; an AI that is IBM’s flagship product. However, people are surprised by how many different ways IBM have implemented Watson. A personal favourite is Chef Watson. Chef Watson analyses current recipes and uses this info to intelligently suggest new recipes and flavour combinations that will go well. As most of us are food lovers I am looking forward to what happens next! Link to Chef Watson

~Joe Barry

 

Advertisements

Goals achieved for 2016 – Joe Barry

2016 was a year full of ups and downs, for Business, Politics and Sports alike. For me I will remember this as the year IBM helped me to achieve all my goals. When I started the year, I had three things I needed to do for my career and anything less than all 3 would be disappointing. January 2016 I was in Swindon working as an Industry Tester and by December 2016 I was a Project Management Officer (PMO) in Hursley. Allow me to talk through my journey.

  1. Improve my Work/Life Balance.
  2. Make an effort to learn new skills that would help me in the future.
  3. Determine my next career steps and start the journey towards it

Why would I or anyone need to improve my work/life balance?

Well in my case I was living in Portsmouth but working in Swindon. Monday I would travel up, staying a hotel and at 6pm on Friday I traveled back home. I found that I was always tired and quickly got bored of the routine. My family were under the impression that I was living the sweet life. I would always get the same comment.

“Staying in hotels must be great, don’t have to tidy up, use the laundry service for your clothes, food gets brought to your door”

This was all true but once you have been in hotels for a year the novelty had worn off.  When I finished the work day I would get back and start thinking about the stuff I needed to do the next day. I never switched off.

So, to remedy this I spoke to my IBM manager and asked for some help in getting a role closer to home that would still test me and progress my career. I got my ideal roles narrowed down to Project Management or Test Specialist and I used my network to speak to a couple of managers in Hursley. By April I had found a test role that fitted all my criteria however I needed some specific skills in order to be most effective at the role.

Therefore, I needed to make an effort to learn new skills that would help me perform in my ideal role.

The problem I faced was that I have only ever worked with client systems. I was not versed in IBM software or hardware. In this situation to have all the educational tools IBM provides was extremely beneficial. I spoke to the test manager and found out all the skills needed and found most of them on Think foundation and Code Academy online courses.

Finally, I was ready to fill my new role but was informed that I was no longer needed. The role had already been filled by someone else. This was because the end date on my previous role was too late and the test manager needed someone ASAP. I was still wanted for a test role but in the meantime my test manager used her network to find me a PMO role in Hursley.

I was relieved that I was able to carry on working in Hursley but wasn’t too sure about filling a PMO role, within the first day I realised it was the perfect position to determine my next career steps.

The PMO works with the Business and Project Managers to deal with contractor admin tasks. This ranges from on-boarding to access requests to contractor agency queries. As PMO I can use my connections with Project Managers and Technical contractors to figure out what I want to do and how I can do it. To gain a better insight to the project management role I attended an IT Infrastructure Library course that covers all types of management from service to operations and many others. I loved the course and wished I’d done it earlier. I have a new-found appreciation for how the business works and how many mover parts are in play to drive value to customers. I had already done a lot of technical courses but I enjoyed seeing them work in real life and what a Software Developer does day to day.

From my experiences both in technical and management I am currently finding a technical role that I would be happy with. I have the foundation in place to do so and other options available if I change my mind.

Thanks to IBM, I was given a lot of role options that would help improve my work life balance. IBM’s Think academy meant I was able to gather the skills to fill any role I desire. I can now see the bigger picture when it comes to business and a view of day to day tasks of technical professions all of which has helped me craft a destination for my career.

Joe Barry.

School vs. Corporate Environment – Sarah Naylor

I have now been working at IBM for five months and as we are swiftly approaching year end, I thought it would be perfect timing to reflect on the lessons I have learnt since starting my apprenticeship in HR and the big differences between being in a school environment vs. a corporate environment.

Kick-starting your career early definitely does have its perks. Being able to able to afford nice holidays, a car and save for a flat all on top of being able to gain my CIPD qualification and valuable work experience has been a bonus.

The biggest challenge for me has been getting used to being in a professional environment every day where your colleagues rely on your support and you have job responsibilities to deliver day in- day out. Going from a six-hour day at school to a full-time job as well as a 100 mile all-round commute each day has definitely taken some getting used to! I have already learnt some foundation skills which could tackle these challenges such has time-management, prioritising and knowing that it is ok to say ‘no’ if you don’t think you will be able to deliver something to a high-standard and on time. I also hope to put these valuable skills into practice as I begin my CIPD qualification in the new year.

In the last four months, I feel I have grown from being the typical, moody teenager who didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, to an adult (sometimes still moody if you catch me before my morning cup of coffee). IBM has supported me with such a big life change and I certainly would recommend this route to anyone who is looking to do something fun, challenging, eye-opening and to earn whilst you learn all at once.

My main goal for 2017 is to keep asking questions. As a newbie, it is a common trait to feel guilty for repeatedly asking why we do things the way we do, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is something that is encouraged at IBM and within my team, as it forces you to question the status quo and ask yourself if there is a more efficient way of working or re-inventing the current processes already in place. I am also really excited to have been chosen as 1/9 representing IBM in the Brathay Apprentice Challenge 2017 in search for the English apprentice team of the year. This will be a great opportunity to meet more apprentices, promote apprenticeships to school leavers and to give back to the local community.

As I go back to school this Thursday to collect my A-level certificates at the annual ex-year 13 prize giving, I will be returning this time with a more independent mind and a mature, confident and individual personality which has been brought to life upon joining IBM.

Sarah Naylor.

University vs Apprenticeships – Katy Turner

I was asked to write a guest blog post as a member of the behind-the-scenes blogging team and I thought in a completely original style I would just essentially borrow John Longworth’s blog post from a few weeks back titled ‘IBM Apprenticeships vs Uni (in the view of an Apprentice)’ but write it from the view of a University student on their placement…

When I was in my last year of sixth form I had very little idea of what I wanted to do with my future, I’d had images of me “finding myself” on an elephant in Thailand but with no financial savings this idea was firmly placed on the bucket list. So that left me with the option of an Apprenticeship or University.

My parents were both entirely supportive of whatever decision I made (maybe less so backpacking across the world), but with no actual plan in place they both encouraged me to apply for UCAS so that at least I had that option. Even at this point I recognised experience was going to be essential so only applied to courses that offered Marketing courses with a year in industry – which narrowed the choices considerably.

I was actually more interested in an Apprenticeship than University which in 2014 was pretty rare for my age group, I was eager to earn money and work my way up from the bottom. However, Apprenticeships back then are not at all what they are now. They mostly focused on routes such as admin, hairdressing and brick laying – none of which remotely appealed to me and they also seemed to be targeted towards those who wouldn’t get the grades to get into University as opposed to those who wanted to take an alternative route after college. After a series of equally uninspiring events by similarly uninspiring employers I decided that this route probably wasn’t going to be for me.

A few months later some form of miracle/a very generous marker happened and I exceeded the criteria needed for my first choice University. After my experience with Apprenticeships so far I felt I would just follow the masses and sign myself up for thousands of pounds’ worth of debt along with many of my peers…. and three years later here I am, student at the University of Liverpool on my third year doing my placement at IBM working in Attraction Recruitment Marketing.

Since my initial experience I have to say that after only a few months at IBM my opinion of Apprenticeships in general has completely changed. As a regular reader of this blog it amazes me how much they all seem to know about coding, software systems and java scripts… all this is like a foreign language to me. They are all in real roles that matter, engaging with top clients, traveling the country, have huge responsibility and in 2017 their starting salary will be higher than placement students such as myself.

In my role I go to so many conferences with other recruiters and it’s so apparent that Apprenticeships are taking off as key talent pools for employers, there is so much choice with so many employers and they are really starting to gain the recognition they deserve.

I think the key thing we, as a society need to focus on, is that University and Apprenticeships are both options within their own right. It’s not about discouraging young people against going to University and choosing the Apprenticeship route, it’s about providing school leavers with all the information to make that decision for themselves. There are so many choices out there now; University, Part-Time University, Higher Apprenticeships, Degree Apprenticeships, Advanced Apprenticeships and even a gap year in the workplace.

I’ve met a lot of Apprentices at IBM that have made me question as to whether I have made the right decision pursuing University and I do wonder if there would have been a different outcome had I been at sixth form a few years later when these changes were starting to be implemented. Although I think I would have gained immensely from an Apprenticeship, I can’t really regret the path I’ve chosen. For me personally, it feels like I’ve suitably pro-longed the inevitable ‘adulthood’, learned a huge deal more about a subject I’m incredibly passionate about at a great University, made some life-long friends, feel entirely independent and have a fair amount of experience within the workplace. But with University costs continuing to rise I think for the next generation it’s more important than ever that they are making their decision for the right reason and not because they see no other option.

Katy Turner