Tag Archives: ambition

Training: the core part of any Apprenticeship – Megan Murray

One of the most common questions asked about apprenticeships is about the quality of training available. Is it actually worthwhile? Do you actually get taught anything or do you just do the rubbish jobs nobody else wants? Does the employer really care about you and your learning or is it purely to fill a quota?

Well, I thought for my blog this quarter I’d give some insight into some IBM training I’ve received, because let’s face it, before you start work it’s impossible to know what to expect from ‘training days/weeks’.

I receive training throughout my apprenticeship of course, with various formal education days around various subjects, I recently attended a Digital Marketing Workshop day for instance; then I have university learning; there’s online learning, with IBM’s ‘Think 40’ initiative which promotes IBMers completing at least 40 hours of learning a year and which provides lots of online videos, reading and even games to learn more about various topics; and finally there’s informal learning that happens every day, in the form of guidance from those around me.

Last week I went on a 1 week long formal education course, and I thought I’d make this the focus of today’s blog post as an example of one of these training methods.

I’d been looking forward to this course for a while (yep, looking forward to training, I said it!) I’d heard good feedback about it from those who had been on it previously and I knew it was centred around talking to and presenting to clients, which is something I was beginning to dip my feet in to with work and needed a real confidence boost with. Whilst those I’d spoke to had said that the course did have a bit of a tough ‘practice interview’ that they hadn’t been too fond of, I was still eager to go and see what I could learn. I knew I’d be going with new IBMers I hadn’t met before either which I always look forward to and it was based at a conference venue/hotel down near Southampton, so provided a change of scenery for a week too which is always refreshing.

The training itself was intense, and at times quite stressful, especially when you were put under the spotlight having to question a purposefully awkward customer, but it had fun aspects too and it really did teach me a lot. There were so many things that had been brushed over in conversations I’d had with others about how to talk to clients but that hadn’t quite clicked with me in the way they did through this training course. It gave me the opportunity to learn and practice, get feedback, and learn and practice some more, before actually going through this process with a real customer and gave me plenty more confidence for when this does happen. I feel more prepared now, more able to guide the conversation and with a clearer idea of how to get what I want from it, whilst ensuring the customer does too.

In a year’s time I’ll be invited on a follow up course to this one, even more intensive, with even more difficult practice customers, and even worse, I’ll be graded (always scary!) But, in that time I’ll have had a year of real life practice, a chance to read up more on what I’ve learnt and more chances to learn from others too. Plus, I’ll have learnt tonnes of other things in the meantime too!

So, in answer to those common apprenticeship questions: At IBM, yes, the training is high quality; yes it’s worthwhile, it’s relevant; yes, you get taught lots and it’s not just ‘rubbish’ jobs, there’s lots of exciting things to do; and IBM take plenty of care to provide plenty of training and development opportunities, you won’t come out not having learnt anything.

Megan Murray.

My IBM Apprenticeship Opinion – John Longworth

Thinking back to when I began my time here on the IBM Apprenticeship, I’ve had a lot of amazing encounters and things happen. So I thought, now would be a great time to go back and give you all a small insight into all the good things that go on in an IBM Apprentice’s time.

So probably the best place to start is with the people. You meet so many of them sometimes it’s hard to keep up, but that’s one of the best things. There are so many other Apprentices you meet, with such a variety of experiences, expertise and sense of welcoming, it’s never seemingly difficult to get yourself unstuck with any issue or queries you have. It’s not difficult to find yourself a group of people either, wherever you end up, who make your whole work life feel like you’re involved in some sort of community. There are so many Apprentices scattered around the country, you’ll bump into them more often than you think!

The next thing surely has to be the experiences and activities you get to participate in. Just recently, for example, I was part of a IBM @ Wimbledon event for a select few Foundation members in which there where prizes up for grabs, plus the chance to go ahead and implement your own idea with the actual IBM Wimbledon team! (Unfortunately, my team didn’t win. Can’t win everything I guess!!). But that’s just an example of the types of events you could expect to take part in and have a chance to put yourself forward for, definitely something I would suggest doing and I’m going to continue to look for myself in the future! If anything, it’s an opportunity to meet and work with people that you wouldn’t usually on a day-to-day basis and you might even pick some new skills or tips along the way.

The number of work opportunities/roles and chances to pick up some expertise, in a technology area you couldn’t ever imagine yourself being a part of, is something that should, for sure, get a mention in this post. It’s actually, in it’s own way, something you have to take into your stride. Having that many opportunities available to you, in areas you don’t even know, but having the chance to learn, can become quite overwhelming at times. But from what I’ve seen and from my own experience, you’ve just got to go for it, put your best foot forward and just jump into the unknown, you often end up enjoying what you’ve done, picked up a new skill and become more prepared for the next role or opportunity that comes your way!

So, that’s just a brief few of the amazing encounters I’ve come across during my time as an IBM Apprentice. I didn’t really think all or many of these opportunities or encounters would actually happen, but they have, and I feel like I’ve tried to make the most of them whenever I can!

John Longworth

IBM Foundation: where are they now? – Oliver Pope-Mostowicz

So here’s an interesting turn up.

I started this blog, along with a number of my Apprentice colleagues for National Apprenticeship Week … wait for it … 1.5 years ago!  Since then, we’ve pretty consistently posted a blog a week on a huge array of subjects – all from the view point of IBM Apprentices.  I’m really proud of what has been done here.

What makes this even more interesting, for me at least, is that the start of this blog marked the half way point in my career as an IBM Apprentice.  Which, as you have guessed, means that (by the time this blog is published – so long as everything goes according to plan *touch wood, throw salt over shoulder, buy a horse shoe etc*) I am no longer an IBM Apprentice.  I have ‘graduated’ from the Apprenticeship scheme and have joined my colleagues as an IBM professional.

It’s quite strange; I look back on that first blog post and I can see an element of defensiveness – I was proving to the world around me that I had made the right decision, that I was an IBM Apprentice and proud and here are all the reasons why ‘I was right and you were wrong’.  Part of me has stayed the same – I’m still immensely proud that I am/was an IBM Apprentice, I know I made the right decision and I still occasionally like to take on the world. But I like to think that part of me has also changed.

In the time since I joined IBM in September 2012, I have been all across England, to Vienna and Barcelona, I have worked 15+ hour days, worked on holidays and been woken up in the middle of the night by a phone call from work.  I have sat in client offices as the sole IBM technical representative and I have created architectures for client systems that are now in place and support their critical services that allow them to run their business.  I have made friends, I have been coached by excellent mentors, and I have been absolutely awestruck by human beings and technology more than once.  I’m a qualified TSM administrator, an Infrastructure Architect and a Registered IT Technician (see Paul Martynenko’s post from last week).  That sounds like I’m boasting – and maybe I am a little, I told you, I’m proud of my achievements – but mostly it’s just incredible to me to sit back sometimes and just list what I’ve done, where I’ve been and who I’ve met.

On that last point, I’ve met ex-Foundation members who are now IBM Distinguished Engineers (the highest technical banding within IBM), who are running *massive* global accounts and who are involved in continuing the support of the Foundation scheme seeking out new talent and new opportunities amongst young people.

Now I’m not saying I’m going to reach those lofty heights (though I certainly intend to), but it does give me pause for thought …

Foundation: Where are they now?  Probably the question is more where aren’t they?  And more importantly, why aren’t you here as well?

Oliver Pope-Mostowicz

Goals and Ambitions – Guest post from David Stokes, Chief Executive, IBM UK and Ireland

And so our first blog series comes to a close.  And what a great run it’s been.  We all hope you have reflected on your own successes in 2014 and have given yourself some ambitious goals for 2015 and the rest of your career.  Let us know if you chose anything to do with Apprenticeships – we’ll all help out in any way we can to make sure you reach your goals – and we’ll certainly let you know if we achieved ours by the end of the year!

Now, to close out this first series in style, have a read of the below – guest written for us by David Stokes, the Chief Executive, IBM UK and Ireland.  David has long been a supporter of the Apprenticeship scheme and has attended a number of events to inspire and congratulate the Apprentice community.  his words below give a good idea of his goals for IBM and the industry in 2015, and he also gives us some advice for making sure being an Apprentice is as fulfilling as it can be.  Check it out!

Our industry is changing at an unprecedented rate and scale, and our company is transforming to lead in this new era – the digital era. We have made significant progress to date and in 2015 our transformation continues.

Technology has been a source of great innovation for decades, playing a key role in improving the way we live, work and increase efficiency and productivity. Today we are witnessing the confluence of many global technology shifts – in areas such as big data, cloud, social, mobile and security. The convergence of all of these shifts is hugely disruptive to the way we do business across all industries and sectors.

IBM’s long standing history of innovation has meant that our clients have and will continue to look to us and demand the best of IBM; the technology and the expertise to help them operate efficiently and meet the demands of the new era. They will also continue to seek our help to build systems that engage with people in new and differentiating ways, whether they be external clients or their own employees.

To take our company forward and continue to support our clients we are focusing on three areas: firstly, continuing to accelerate our investments in the global technology shifts, secondly innovating within our core business and finally extending our partnerships to drive innovation, which has been the hallmark of our company for more than 100 years.

Our people are particularly crucial to this transformation, both to the business and to me personally. We must continue to invest in building the skills our client’s value most, as well as creating an environment in which innovation can thrive in this digital era.

Apprentices play an important role in ensuring we deliver the best of IBM. Not only do they bring new skills and new insights but a new approach to working. In a highly mobile and knowledge-based business, such as ours, they play an important role in ensuring the effectiveness of our company. I am a strong supporter of apprenticeships and believe giving young people the opportunity to work hard, learn fast and put their skills into practice, on “real-world” projects, will enable them and IBM to succeed.

In reflecting on my own career, and my some 25 years in IBM, I can say with confidence that IBM offers an immense range of opportunities to learn; not just about technology but about many different aspects of the commercial world. Each of these opportunities are a chance to grow and learn.

As you look to build your own careers, my advice to you all would be to: always give your best and act with professionalism in everything you do, never stop learning – from your successes and your mistakes, and finally do something you enjoy. I believe IBM offers the opportunity to do all of these, and it is down to you to embrace the challenge.

 

Key Career Considerations – Ryan McManus

In this blog I will be sharing an insight into what factors I will be taking into consideration when setting my aspirations/ career goals/ path.

I should have set some specific aims and goals and have planned my full career out, but I haven’t.  Whether this is because I feel like it is impossible due to the fast moving industry I am in or whether it is a time consuming exercise that will be done and then not followed… I am not sure.

I am still an apprentice and every role I do, every person I speak to, every friend I make could change my career path instantly. Therefore I am taking every day as it comes and putting my full effort in to every task I compete.  I feel that if I don’t put in sufficient effort at this stage of my career, I will miss opportunities to get noticed, learn and most importantly, Network.  I am an apprentice and will take every opportunity to ensure I have as many career paths open to me as possible.

I am not planning to go through the whole of my career without long term goals. I think when my apprenticeship is over I will have to think very hard about the career path I would like to follow.  There are a few things below that will help me determine what my goals and aspirations will be and what career path I will take.

Key Career considerations:

What am I best at – For me, the top factor which will determine my career path and influence what I want to achieve is my skill set. Always play to your strengths. I am not talking about specific things here but high level areas like am I technical or client facing, am I good at sales etc.

Where is the money at – I am not going to hide it, money does drive me. I will have to balance where I want to end up and how far I want to climb; with how much that role impacts my social life/ family (when I have one!).  I will consider whether my industry is where the money lies, whether people at the same level ln the same sort of job are earning the same sort of wage.

Hours– What hours will I have to work in the career path I have taken?  Career paths with constant weekends or nights may be a factor that I will have to take into consideration.

How easy is it to climb – I like responsibility, I like to climb higher to gain more skills and experience. I will be looking for a career path that allows me to grow/ transform and looks to be the future career path for growth and opportunity, not just the one that appears to be doing the best currently.

What is the future – As mentioned above, I will have to think about if the career path or a similar career path will likely to be successful in 20 years’ time. It’s not the end of the world if it isn’t as people change within industries all the time but if you are an expert in the same industries for many years then other career factors like money may be easier to reach.

Job security – I will be looking at how secure my job is likely to be based on the path I choose and how high I want to climb.

 

Long/ short term factors:

Location – My career planning will probably not dive that deep, but in terms of roles –  the location of the roles will be a huge factor to where my career ends up. Do I want to work abroad – will my company enable me to work abroad, do I want to work in a City, do I want to be in a particular location etc.

Mobility – At the moment mobility is not an issue; I work away in different locations and away from home 5 days a week. However when I settle down and have a family, will being mobile start to affect my decisions in my career planning?

Social – The job I’m in, the responsibility I have, the location I am in, the people I work with. Does it offer what I want in social terms? What I am after now may not the case 20 years down the line. I like to go out at night, have meals, socialize with other apprentice/ graduate/ colleagues, play football,  play golf, play badminton etc.

Atmosphere and working environment – When trying to enjoy the role and job you are in – the place you work and the people you are working with. If you don’t enjoy where you work and the types of people you are around then your job satisfaction could be severely impacted.

Social:

I want to go travelling around Europe.  – I need a job with good pay and that will support that ambition.

I want to go skiing in 2016 – I need a job that will allow me to have time off in a particular time of the year.

I need to save for a nice car and a new house – I need a job that pays a fair amount of money for the job I do and the value I add.

 

My key ambition and aspiration is to climb in a company to gain more knowledge/ experience,  get more responsibility and as a result earn more money, whilst at the same time ensuring I enjoy life to the full! I am sure that the things mentioned above will be big factors while trying to achieve that aspiration.

I am a firm believer that you should work to live and not live to work!

Hope this blog helped!

A Story …. – Avtar Marway

Let me tell you a story…
When I was in high school, I had a friend who would pay no attention to learning all because they didn’t have their mind set on anything in particular, other than having fun. This friend went through the 1st year of GCSEs with this mind-set and got the worst grades of his life. He got G grades in subjects such as Geography and shocked everyone who was learning the subject. We didn’t even know that a G grade existed and neither did he! At this point in time, he was given very low target grades for the subjects he was studying and that’s when it hit him…
This person is now studying Dentistry at one of the Top Universities in the UK and he is one of the most dedicated, hardworking people that I know. This person exceeded their target grades hugely and that’s because they set their mind on what they wanted to achieve. He gave himself many goals that he wanted to achieve and he made sure he worked enough to meet and exceed those goals.
He proved that anything can be achieved if you set realistic goals that relate to something that you want really bad.
He aspired to be a dentist and, after realising he was wasting his chances during GCSE’s, knew he had to work hard to achieve his goal. I am glad to say that he met those goals, even when others weren’t as optimistic.

Why am I telling you this? Why should you care about this person? I chose to tell you this story as I thought this would be a good introduction to today blog topic, goals and aspirations. In this blog I’m going to be telling you about my 1, 5 and 10 year goals and aspirations that I have for my life, my job and my career.
By the end of 2015, I would have hoped to have achieved and obtained:
• Motivation for the gym and to gain weight (This will be a hard one!)
• Chelsea FC to win the Barclays Premier League
• All compulsory IBM apprentice and foundation education
• Further understanding in testing and infrastructure
• An industry-standard and well known qualification in Testing and Infrastructure
• My own car, paid for all by myself
• Experience in travelling to places all over Europe and the world (This goal is going well as I’m currently on holiday in Barcelona and plan to go Amsterdam soon)
• Experience in SAP (System Applications Products)
• Job Satisfaction
By the end of 2020, I would have hoped to have achieved and obtained:
• Promotion out of the foundation and apprenticeship scheme
• A reputation for previous work completed
• SAP knowledge in many areas
• Experience of travelling and staying in the city that never sleeps
• Experience in skydiving and mountain climbing
• A chance to work abroad
• My own house (this isn’t realistic but it is something that I would like to work towards)
• Once again… Job Satisfaction – Life can’t be lived without happiness
• The ability to help other apprentices and foundation employees with the experiences that I have obtained
So, I think having goals in 10 years is good but they aren’t really that realistic as anything can happen in 10 years! However, a few goals that I would have hoped to achieved and obtained are:
• My own house (if I haven’t had it by 2020 – hopefully I have)
• A family and a child/children maybe?
• A great salary to provide for my potential family and to those in need
• A great reputation for work that I’ve completed and people I’ve worked for and with as well as being an expert in a field that I enjoy
• A list of reliable contacts and friends all over the world
• Last but not least, job satisfaction!
So in My Life, My Job and My Career… these are my goals and aspirations. As unrealistic as you may think they are, I feel that they are things that motivate me to work and try harder in everything I do. They give me a purpose to wake up every morning and go to work and they’re things that I want to achieve. I hope that the objectives that you set yourself for this and upcoming years are met and you do whatever it takes to achieve them.
If you’ve got any questions or queries, feel free to Tweet Me @AvtarMarway or message me on LinkedIn “Avtar Marway”
Enjoy your year and make the most of it .

2015: The Final Hurdle – Tom Cope

Hello, It’s me Tom.C. I’ve been on this Earth for 19 years and retrospectively that’s not a long time, but damn where have the last 2 years gone. The IBM apprenticeship is three years in length and this year; 2015 will be my last on the program. In September I’ll be thrown into the business to move on to bigger and greater things. That leaves me with ~15,897,609 seconds… ~15,897,608, ~15,897,607. I should really stop over thinking this and start making the most of it. My resolutions for 2015! Everyone’s got them so I would like to share mine with you.

Firstly I would like to complete some certifications. I am currently a Certified Redhat System Administrator (which was by far one of my favourite courses) and I would like to get my Certified Redhat System Engineer. The course is booked, so now all I’ve got is the exam (wish me luck). Next up is the CompTIA Security+ Qualification. Security+ is an industry recognised certification which covers everything from encryption to network security. It’s all done from this cool website which adapts based on how you answer the questions, which is great because you can skip over the stuff you already know and go for the new interesting parts first. I’m about half way there and then I can go for that exam.

Working in a security role really changes your outlook on IT, I always find myself thinking of new ways to bypass security measures. So much so I found a security hole in one of my scripts! I wrote a simple bash script to exploit this hole and voila it worked! I then rewrote a section of the script to defend against this type of attack. I found the whole experience quite fun. I was talking to the project SME and showing him how I performed the exploit and he said I should think about becoming a PEN tester, who’s job it is to do what I just did. Find security holes on a project and write a report about them, so the business can help patch the issue. He recommended I go on a Ethical Hacker course and if I pass I would get a “Certified Security Testing Associate (CSTA) qualification” which is approved by “CREST”. I was all in for that so I sent of a course request and I was approved today. I’m really looking forward to it.

Next up learning. I would like to try some Windows based technologies this year. It’s all well and good falling in love with the soft glow of a black and green command line but sometimes you’ve got to close Putty and use a GUI. I use IBM’s TDS (now re-named to SDS) which is a type of LDAP server. Think of it like a massive phone book, you can quickly search for someone’s name and get their number. But in my case, quickly search for their username and check their password. Windows has its own version called Active Directory or AD for short. Because everyone use’s Windows as their work station I have done some work integrating AD into Redhat Linux so that you don’t need to keep re-typing your password to access a Linux box. Good fun but I would really like to learn more about AD, it looks really cool.

Another point on my New Year’s Resolutions is Social media. IBM has a real focus on “Growing a Social Presence”, so I want to do the same.  If you’ve ever been interested in connecting with me here how:

  • Twitter – @copethomas : My various 140 char comments about work, life and my desk cactus.
  • LinkedIn : My Jobs within IBM, Qualification and (hopefully more) Certifications
  • My Website tomcope.com : Built from scratch in the Style of a Old Fashion terminal screen

I hope to work on my “Social Presence” writing more blogs etc. You can find my blogs on my Linkedin.

My Final resolution is one a bit closer to me. I am continuously making things at home. Arduino Robots, Minecraft Mods and applications in Java/C++. Most of these get back benched and placed in the dark abyss knows as “The Archive” (a black hole folder on my desktop). Sounds a lot like a Doctor Who episode checking… nope not there but “Temple of Secrets” or “The Ark in Space” are cool names. My point is I never truly finish a project, either I’m to paranoid about “perfection” or I think of some other project and go “oooh lets do that!”. Then the current project gets thrown into the folder and the cycle continues. The only exception to this is my “Conference Call Bingo” game. Which I made in a weekend. I have now published this game and you can find a blog post about it on my Linkedin. I want to do more projects like that and share them. So that’s my final resolution, more projects and more sharing. If I do get another project out I will be sure to post it on LinkedIn, here and my personal website.

So there we have it. My plan for 2015. To think it took 2940 sec to write this. Which leaves me with ~15894667 sec to complete the ABOVE! As I said got to stop thinking (or writing) about it and get on with it. So that was me Tom.C, see you in the next one!