Tag Archives: choice

My Opinion! What Is It Really Worth? – Gus Parkhouse

An opinion is a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. It could also be a statement of advice by an expert on a professional matter. The following is my opinion of the IBM Apprenticeship scheme, although I am not an expert on this matter.

I considered a lot of points when writing this blog, but the main one I kept coming back to was the stigma I thought would be attached to the title of apprentice. I was concerned about being at the lowest entry point in the company and being treated differently because of this. Therefore, I wanted to make a positive impression as quickly as I could after joining the company to help tackle this worry. I also thought the people in IBM would judge me for doing an apprenticeship instead of going to university, but working alongside and talking to graduates showed me that there are benefits to both paths.

After a few days into the scheme, and when all the admin work was completed, I was quickly shown that I was not seen in this negative light at all for being an apprentice. I was treated with respect from the moment I met with my peers and felt very welcomed. This was quickly reinforced when I was given a large amount of responsibility for work deliverables in a short amount of time. The perception was set that I was trusted and this gave me good expectations for my future as an IBM apprentice.

During the first days I also had a chance read through an online description of the scheme. It mentioned that I would be considered a permanent employee and the scheme would be flexible with the roles, work-life balance, exposure, experience and great benefits that are offered to all the staff. These are all true and, put simply, it does what it says on the tin. The apprenticeship scheme provides a more than adequate amount of training; helping me to develop my technical, business and personal skills. The two week intensive induction provides a good cushion of technical and business knowledge to fall back on if necessary. The induction also helped me to ask any questions about the scheme out in front of other apprentices who may have the same worries.

On the scheme I have developed a great social and work colleague network around me that consists of early professionals, distinguished engineers, managers and senior employees. This network helps me to develop in my role, which I see as being the most important aspect of the scheme for me and the business as a whole. Within this network I have an early professional’s manager (EPM) that helps me with queries that aren’t related to my account, no matter how small they may seem. This is incredibly supportive as apprentices can be quite young and in need of a mentor to be able to talk to whenever it is necessary. My EPM has also helped me to develop through routine reviews to gain feedback, work on a development program and see what is necessary to progress in my career.

To emphasise how strong my network as an apprentice at IBM is, I have been assigned two “buddies” who are more experienced apprentices. The two buddies I have been assigned have been able to help me with work, as they are both in the same role as me, and help me with any queries I have about the scheme, as they have experienced it themselves.

The time it took to get onto the scheme was lengthy. There were times when I wouldn’t hear from the IBM team for a while and the gap between the assessment centres was quite nerve wracking. However, my assessment results were sent out quickly. The HR team were very obliging during the application and on-boarding process, helping me to feel at ease with starting and creating a good first impression.

There are a lot of apprenticeship schemes available in this day and age, but my opinion is that this is the best suited for me as it caters to my need to grow and develop continuously.

My opinion of the IBM Degree Apprenticeship – Megan Murray


For my blog this quarter I decided to cover my opinion of the Degree Apprenticeship Scheme… and as a painfully honest person it’s always a little bit scary to voice your opinion on anything; let alone when your employer and people responsible for your future career will be reading what you have to say!

A summary for those of you reading who may not be aware of the scheme – the IBM Degree Apprenticeship is a part time degree over 4 years in Digital & Technology Solutions (Computer Science and Business essentially), and we attend Queen Mary University of London twice a week during term time and work at IBM for the rest of the time as normal employees. This year was the first year of the scheme and after a couple of weeks of exams the first year of uni will be complete!

The first opinion I guess I’d have to give is that it is hard work… you get plenty of uni students who struggle and they’re often not even having to balance going to work for one of the biggest tech/business companies alongside it all! It can be stressful and difficult to keep up with everything you’ve got going on, plus depending on your background, the content can be tough to get your head around, especially if you’re trying to learn stuff for work at the same time! Thankfully though IBM really are very flexible with it all and if you’re struggling, there is always something that can be done or someone who can help, but resilience definitely goes a long way.

The second thing is the number of opportunities to do something else in addition to your ‘everyday’ apprenticeship, it’s astounding! For me I wanted to fully focus on university and getting through first year until I really got involved in anything else, but I can’t wait to start to get stuck in to some other events and opportunities that are open to apprentices.

Thirdly, it’s massively rewarding… even more so because it is difficult. Whether it’s passing a mid-term or handing in a piece of coursework, or doing something to really help your team, or taking part in some Giveback. You are praised for what you do achieve, and supported in what is more difficult. The apprenticeship scheme at IBM is recognised and you are appreciated. It’s difficult not to be proud of yourself when everyone is telling you how much you should be when taking on a degree and work at the same time!

Finally, because it is a central reason why many people take apprenticeships, it’s undeniably a huge attraction not having to pay your uni fees and get in all that debt. They’re covered by the Government and IBM, plus you get a salary so technically you almost get paid to go to university, plus you get tons of real world experience and knowledge too… and that’s pretty sweet whichever way you look at it.

In summary, I guess my opinion is that if you’re willing to put in the hard work and dedication then this scheme is a really good option. It’s rewarding, comes with plenty of opportunities, gives you the chance to learn loads of new stuff and kick starts your career… I don’t think anybody could say that isn’t a good choice.

IBM Apprenticeship vs Uni (in the view of an Apprentice) – John Longworth

Firstly, a very brief recap of myself for anyone that may not have read my ‘Introductory’ post. I’m now in my 3rd and final year of the IBM apprenticeship programme (started WAY back in February 2014) and have worked on 2 very different client accounts in multiple varied roles. I came out of sixth form with a qualification in Game Design and decided University just wasn’t for me. So naturally (and after MUCH research), I decided an Apprenticeship would be the way I would go. Funnily enough – that’s what this post will be focused around, Apprenticeships vs Uni and my opinion on the whole debate, so let’s get into it.

So, from my experience, back in 2014, the cost of going to Uni had just risen and Apprenticeships were *starting* to become a choice for young people leaving education. This meant I had to decide whether I had enough passion for a specific subject to take the financial hit (we’re talking tens of thousands) and pursue it in Uni or to choose a route where I would gain actual experience in a sector I had interest in. Now, I had always had an interest in technology and sport, so if I was going to leave sixth-form and go into a sector, it would have been one of those two. I had the grades to go to Uni, don’t get me wrong, but after looking into Apprenticeships as an option, for me personally, it seemed like a no-brainer.

Paying so much money to go and earn a degree in something that I had no idea whether it would pay off in the end or not (or even if I’d still have the passion for anymore!) VS choosing an industry I had some interest in and spending 2/3 years gaining actual experience AND being paid for it. So either a Full Time job or an Apprenticeship where my options.

So the process of searching through the National Apprenticeships website and going to see career advisers for ANY opportunities which sounded like an opportunity began. This threw up a plethora of Apprenticeships in the IT industry (IBM, HP, Capgemini etc…), all of which were applied for. One  competency test and a trip to Portsmouth for an Assessment Centre later and I’d accepted the IBM offer before anyone else had even got back to me!

Now, let’s not make this ‘my story’, the point of this post is to give my positives and negatives of an Apprenticeship scheme compared to Uni. Let’s start with the negatives; not because it’s the first thing that comes to mind, but because I’m a believer of ending on a high note, so we’ll save the best for last!

Funnily enough, even hyper-critical me is finding it hard to pick any huge holes in the IBM Apprenticeship or why it would be beneficial to go to Uni instead. Maybe there’s a *little* bias in there I admit, but honestly, nothing is so glaring that it needs a specific mention of the IBM scheme. However, in a much broader sense there are cons to an Apprenticeship – nothings ever perfect. Firstly, not having the ‘moving out and going to Uni’ experience, which I imagine is what attracts a lot of people to go to Uni, because they get to live away from home full time, but that doesn’t mean that in IBM you don’t have that opportunity, you just have to find the right project far enough away! Or the fact it’s a steep learning curve to going from education where you’re just taught what you need to know, to go into situations where you might have to meet real life client deadlines and take on a lot of responsibilities which could impact more than just yourself. For some people, that could become a little overwhelming but if this is something you feel okay with missing out on or dealing with, then yet again, most things seem to be in an Apprenticeships favour.

Now for the easy part, the pros to the Apprenticeship. Let’s start at the point which sways most peoples opinions, one way or the other. The cost. I think this somewhat speaks for itself, you can go on from the Apprenticeship debt free and without the worry of having to pay off tuition fees, student loans and the like. Coupled with this is the fact that you ‘earn while you learn’. Earning money while gaining a qualification is definitely a positive thing and if you’re the type of person who wants to start earning as soon as you can, then this should be the biggest incentive you could ask for. Not only this but Apprentices learn on the job, all the while you’re building up your skills which can be taken forward into you’re career. For example I’ve gained a qualification in ITIL (Service Management) and can now prefix myself with AMBCS. Which is something I’m personally quite proud of, but also something that being in an Apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to do. The amount of learning I could do within IBM internally itself I feel like probably rivals the amount you could learn in a specific subject while in Uni!

Overall, even after going over all the pros and cons in preparation for this post (a lot of which I’ve not included, as to not drag this on too long), I feel like I’ve not only just made the correct decision now, but in terms of my future, whether that be within IBM or in my career in general, I think being an Apprentice is going to help me, no end. I mean, just take a look at the rest of the posts on this blog if you don’t believe me! 🙂

John Longworth

It’s Never Too Late – College Is Tough! – Josh Abraham

For many of our Apprentices, looking at Timehop over the next few weeks will certainly bring a few throwbacks of the last few days of School or College. It was five years ago that I was leaving school. If someone were to tell me then that in five years’ time I would be finishing my apprenticeship at IBM, I would probably just laugh, something along the lines of ”Everyone just goes to Uni I don’t think apprenticeships are for me… what’s IBM?”

I left school with some very good GCSEs ready to move on to the next big thing, College. Right from the get go at College everyone around seemed to have a plan, something I hadn’t quite yet figured out. Turns out “I’ll just do some courses and go to Uni” was not the best approach when it came to choosing courses. I ended up doing some A-levels that really weren’t for me, but by the time I had realised this, it was already too late to change. As a result my first year at College wasn’t great, so when second year came around I had some serious thinking to do.

I had only passed two out of the four AS levels I had taken, meaning as it stood, I wasn’t going to get into Uni & I wasn’t going to be in the best position once I left College looking for work. I thought I had messed up my life. I was invited in to College for a meeting with the Careers Service and my tutor where I was told that I would need to do a whole A-level (or a level three equivalent) in one year in order to continue. I didn’t have much to pick from, I decided to take IT.

This was a massive turning point for me. Although I had to do double the work, I consistently churned out top marks in my assignments, made even better by the fact I was really enjoying what I was doing. This was something I could do as a career! I began looking for Uni courses.

Prior to this moment, I hadn’t really had much exposure to the world of technology and IT, so thought it would be a good idea to find work in the industry for a year before Uni. I spoke to careers & they suggested I look for a short term Apprenticeship. I began my search & started to apply.

I was mostly applying for year apprenticeships at schools, where the wages weren’t great but it was the experience I was after. This was true for all except one in particular. IBM. The Apprenticeship was longer than I was looking for and I’d never heard of them but I was intrigued to see why they were paying so much. After visiting the website and reading up on what the IBM Apprenticeship could offer, the experience, education & high starting and finishing salary, I realised this was a viable alternative to University and so I applied.

I began receiving invites to interviews for a few schools and accepted a place as a technician, due to start in July as soon as I finished my A-Levels. IBM invited me in for an interview assessment day in Hursley during this time frame.

It was the day before I was due to start at the school IBM gave me the call offering me a place on their Apprenticeship scheme. I’m now two and a half years in, completed my qualifications & looking to move to become a fully pledged IBMer. I haven’t looked back since.

Leaving school can be tough and College even tougher, especially if you don’t know what your plan is or not doing as well as you would like to be. But don’t panic, it doesn’t mean you’re going to end up with nothing. Just know that it’s never too late, be open to new things, be willing to work and you’ll get there.

University Equivalents… – Avtar Marway

Despite getting offers from all of the Universities that I applied to, I decided to take a different path and do an Apprenticeship. There were many positive reasons to go to University and I was ready to spend at least 3 years at one. Before I get onto the point of why I didn’t go to University, I just want to say that this blog is my opinion and my reasoning for choosing an Apprenticeship over University. Everyone else is entitled to their own opinions when comparing Apprenticeships with University.

I decided to enrol on the IBM Apprentice Scheme instead of going to University for a number of reasons. During my second year of A Levels, I spoke to my Dad and Uncle about the Universities I should apply to. They gave me their advice and also told me to keep my options open as there were University equivalents out there. I took their advice and started for looking for University equivalents. At this point in time, I wanted to go to University, and was happy going to the one closest to me, Aston University. This was my firm choice and Nottingham was my insurance choice. As my uncle works for IBM, I decided to look on their website for any school leaver schemes. To my luck, they had an Apprenticeship scheme and I decided to apply. I got through the application process, the aptitude test, the application review, and the assessment centre. I had my assessment centre on March 7th 2014 and was told a week later that I passed this stage. It then took over a month to find me a business unit, and for me to get confirmation of becoming an Apprentice at IBM. Until I got the confirmation from IBM that I was definitely going to be enrolled as an Apprentice in September, I was pretty sure that I was going to University.

In my honest opinion, I would still have gone to University, if I didn’t get the offer of employment with IBM. The IBM Apprenticeship scheme was the only Apprenticeship scheme that I applied to and the reasons that I took this offer was because:

  • IBM are one of, if not, the biggest consulting companies in the world
  • I knew it would be much more difficult to get a Job with IBM in the future
  • I knew that I would be able to progress a very good and sustainable career and future with IBM
  • I preferred the hands on learning style rather than the University learning style

Looking back at it now, I am glad that I made this choice of not going to Aston University or any other University to study Computer Science. I have had an amazing time so far at IBM and cannot wait to see what happens in the next few years. I do not regret joining IBM and doing an Apprenticeship. For me, it is a great alternative and it provides similar attributes to University such as improving confidence, learning new skills, working independently, as a team and so on. If any Apprentice feels that they could benefit with a degree, then they still have scope to study for one after their Apprenticeship scheme. So there it is, my honest opinion of why I didn’t go to University.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog.

If you have any other questions, would like to know more information about the Apprenticeship scheme or anything else, tweet me @AvtarMarway, message me on LinkedIn, or comment on this post!

What to do? – Hollie Sauvage

Hi All, hope everyone had a great Easter! My blog post this time is about my decision to choose an Apprenticeship over going to University.

After completing my A-Levels I didn’t know what I wanted to do, except University was definitely not the path I wanted to go down. I really wanted to continue my education without having to go to University. I was willing to do the studying but was just not ready for the move out of home, and give up my part time job!

To be able to continue to work part time, I was applied to do my degree at my local college, where I could study two days a week and work for the rest of the week. This allowed me to stay working and studying at the same time – the best of both worlds!

After two years of doing this, I found that actually I wanted to work full time and stop studying. It was a point in my college years where I could finish college and still get some sort of qualification – a Foundation Degree. I had a friend from school who had started on the IBM Apprenticeship after finishing A Levels and he was really pushing me to join IBM, as it would be a great opportunity allowing me to work full time and continue some level of education, getting more qualifications more tailored to my career goals!

My main concern was that it would be a step back from where I was in my job and also my studies, but that was really not the case! After careful consideration I chose to leave my job and join the IBM Apprentice scheme as I realised that I had reached the boundaries of how far I could progress.

The decision to move from my degree to the IBM Apprenticeship certainly was the best option for me. It has allowed me to tailor my education to my career, rather than learning certain degree modules that I might never need to use again, as well as boosting my experience in a way that my previous job would not have done. I’d definitely recommend at least considering an Apprenticeship– and like me you can become an Apprentice even if you have started University and realised it wasn’t the option for you!