Tag Archives: awards

What Is Expected of IBM Apprentices – Jenny Taylor

It’s over a year now since I wrote my first guest blog on this Forum and I’m delighted to report that in that time, the IBM apprenticeship programme has gone from strength to strength, achieving unprecedented success in terms of winning external awards on both an individual and an overall programme basis. My admiration of our apprentices remains at the highest levels.

I’ve now been asked to return to write a second blog on “What is expected of IBM apprentices”. I see this as a question in two parts: what attributes do we look for in potential recruits to the programme and then, what do we expect of our apprentices once they have joined IBM.

In terms of recruitment of apprentices, we understand that many school-leavers may not have a wealth of work experience which they can list on their application form.  However, we do know that there are other skills and personal characteristics which they should be able to write about and our application form is tailored to these “competencies” as we term them. These are Adaptability, Teamwork, Effective Communication, Self-motivation and drive to succeed, Initiative and creative problem solving and Client focus. Additionally, we ask applicants to tell us why they are motivated to apply for the role and give them a chance to provide us with any extra information they feel is relevant.

We don’t mind from where examples of these competencies are sourced, and in fact the greater variety of scenarios we see on an application form, the better. So, examples could be taken from part time employment, school and social activities, volunteering and charity work, Scouts and Guides, sporting achievements, Duke of Edinburgh award projects or hobbies.  It’s also worthwhile remembering to write about and include inherent digital expertise. All millennials have grown up in a digital world with apps and technologies being second nature to them, so here is an opportunity to capitalise on these skills and show us exactly how valuable they can be in the workplace.

Equally important is to know about IBM and what our most recent achievements are.  It’s vital to us that any potential apprentice demonstrates a passion to want to work for IBM and some knowledge of our business. There’s so much information available on line about IBM, it’s easy to pass this part of the test.

Once inside IBM, we understand that new apprentices will lack specific skills, so initially we are looking for enthusiasm and an appetite to learn.  We can train apprentices in our systems, processes and knowledge specific to a role, so interest and a willingness to learn and work hard are all that is required………and that is what I see from our current apprentices on a daily basis.

I’m delighted to observe that our apprentices have demonstrated that they possess all the requisite skills and knowledge to succeed in IBM, both through their high success rate in apprenticeship qualification and also in achievement of promotions to higher professional levels in IBM.  We are very proud of them.
Jenny Taylor

‘Continuous Improvement’ by Tom Cope

Hello it’s me, Tom. C…..again!

Ah yes the blog post, now what to write? Some words combined to make a sentence to hopefully convey thought or emotion. Well how about a story? Those are good. Right, story it is.

A key part of the apprenticeship is that idea of “Continuous improvement”, that is; the longer you are in the apprenticeship the more you learn and the better you get, both at your job and as a person. This is very much true as throughout my apprenticeship I have grown both my technical skills through the work that I do and personally through presenting to members of management and learning how to deal with many different situations.

Another form of “Continuous improvement” is within the project. IBM likes apprentices to bring new ideas into the projects they are placed on and improve them. This could be through introducing new processes or creating something to help out with a task.

Take my Password Reset Automation Tool (or PRAT for short). As stated in my previous post I work in both the AIX and Security space. This means having to deal with passwords and of course when people forget them, password resets. After being in my role for some time I realised that some of the password reset requests I receive could be automated so using my combined scripting,security and AIX knowledge I created an application which a user could access remotely from their desk that would allow them to reset their password without admin or human intervention.

Once the application was complete I needed to get it tested by the security team before it could be used by the project. Using my presentation/selling skills (acquired through IBM apprentice courses) I pitched the application to the security team as well as providing them with a demonstration of the tool in action. Once I completed the presentation the security team attempted to break the application. I had built into the application a security defence system so that if you attempt to attack the application it will ban you and report the violation to both myself and the security team.

The tool has been very well received on the project as it has made the password reset process a lot faster and does not rely on an administrator being at their desk 24/7 to reset passwords as it can be used after hours.

In general, IBM is very keen on helping technically minded individuals within the company. This is either through the FIC (Foundation Innovation Community) which allows Apprentices/Graduates to help their ideas become a reality and even get them patented! Or through the FTC (Foundation Technical Community) who help Apprentices/Graduates grow their technical skills through special training sessions, meetings with IBM’s key technical individuals or through interactive sessions.

Within IBM there is a tool called TAP (Technology Adoption Program) where you can submit your created app, program or script to an online marketplace where others can download it. It really helps you to get recognised within the company as your App can win awards throughout the year! I am currently working on getting my Password Reset Automation Tool uploaded to TAP so other projects can use it.

Talking of recognition I was recently awarded National Apprentice of the year 2014 for the south central region. This all started when I was nominated for the award by my PDM (Professional Development Manger) after which I had to fill out an application form. The form consisted of four question ranging from “Explain your role, key duties and responsibilities within the workplace” to “Please detail the ways in which you have benefitted from your Apprenticeship”. All of the sections were very restrictive on the number of words you could submit. Along with the written submission I also had to submit some evidence. In my case I sent some screenshots of some of the applications I had made along with some photos of the Brathay challenge https://twitter.com/BrathayTeam | http://bit.ly/1E3NDqA


After the initial application was sent off I was sent a form to create a mini biography, once again with strong restrictions on the number of words allowed. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/1vAfbQx

I was then judged against 1,000 other apprentices to fight for a place in the awards ceremony in Winchester where I got to meet fellow apprentices, members of the judging board and professionals from other companies

So yeah, that was my story – hopefully one in many more to come. Thank you for reading and have a smashing day!

–That was me Tom.C.