Tag Archives: future

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

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My opinion of the IBM Degree Apprenticeship – Megan Murray

Hello!

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.

6 months! Feels more like 6 weeks! – Megan Murray

It’s official, next week will mark 6 months to the day that I joined IBM. I’m still so new, but now, already in that time, so many more new starters have joined and are even newer than me! I’m Megan, new to IBM and new to this blog, so … Hi!

I’m from the midlands, went to school, sixth form, had a couple of part time jobs whilst there, and had some idea around going into a design/marketing job after I had finished studying. I applied to study a foundation degree in art & design to see if it was what I really wanted to do before committing to university, and I didn’t even make it to enrollment. I thought travelling Europe would be a far better way to spend that time (and I wasn’t wrong!) The other important revelation though was that I didn’t want another year in school to see if a design-y job was for me, I wanted to see if I could cut it in the real world. My Dad was the one who suggested I look at internships with the likes of IBM, suggesting I could use my love of design in a more practical way, for a job in consulting maybe, or in marketing to aid communication. As soon as I started my research I realised this would be the perfect company to gain a year’s work experience with and I applied.

I completed the application form, agonising over whether I’d have a chance in a million; I completed the horrible IPAT, feeling certain that I had failed. Each stage had such a long wait for the email to say I was through to the next filter, but I made it to London for the assessment centre, completed the group tasks and I sat down in front of my interviewer ready with my presentation about myself and IBM. The question that threw me in that interview: ‘Why didn’t you apply for an apprenticeship?’. Honestly, it was because when I had first applied I had only wanted work experience, to see if it was for me, to help decide what to do next, but this no longer applied, I knew I wanted to work here, I like learning and I wanted to gain qualifications as well as skills… so, I was moved from Futures onto the apprenticeship application track.

It got to the time I was leaving to go travelling and I still hadn’t heard much, I thought my chances would be ruined because I was away and wouldn’t be able to go to London for interviews. However, IBM understood, I had phone calls on the roof of a hostel in Munich, in Vienna, a failed phone call in Rome thanks to building works, then more calls on a beach in northern Italy, then France. My application process was by no means a normal one, but everyone is different. I was in the south of France when it was confirmed I was being hired by IBM as an apprentice; it wasn’t till all the admin came through a week later on iffy WIFI on an old computer in a hostel in Barcelona that I actually allowed myself to believe I had it.

A month or two later and I had moved to London, started and completed the 2 week induction and got started in to my role supporting a software sales team.

6 months after starting and my role has evolved and expanded as I’ve settled in. It feels like it’s been no more than 6 weeks, but when I look at how much I have done, how much I have learnt and the opportunities I have had, well, no art & design foundation degree could of taught me all of that.

Signing out in style – Craig Wilkinson

If you remember at the beginning of the year, we ran a mini-series on Goals and Ambitions, and every Apprentice blogger provided a breakdown of their goals for 2015, 2020 and 2025. If you don’t remember, then refresh your memory by looking at the goals I’ve set myself for those years here.

Since we are coming to the end of the year, I thought it would be a perfect time to reflect back on the year and give an update to the progress of my goals I’d set for 2015.

Just as a reminder I set the following goals:

By the end of 2015, I would like to have achieved the following goals:

Passing my driving test (hopefully at the third time of asking)

Completed all compulsory Apprentice education to a high grade

Be more confident in my abilities and self-belief

Achieved an industry-standard qualification in Testing and Infrastructure

Become more productive and less ‘leaving things to the last minute’

Being part of a high profile giveback project (this blog hopefully) and with that, meeting more IBM and Client senior management

Not giving up on my gym regime

Started travelling to different places in the world

So where am I at with these goals? Let’s start with the first one…

  • No, I have not yet passed my driving test but I still plan to pass before the year is up!
  • I have now completed all the mandatory Apprentice training, and to add to the cherry on top, I also recently received the news that I had completed my apprenticeship! More on this later.
  • I feel that as I have progressed through the apprenticeship, I learn more as the months pass by and become more experienced, and with experience you naturally become more confident at what you do and as a person.
  • As for achieving an industry-standard qualification in Testing and Infrastructure, these are currently still pending so these plans will likely take me into 2016. I’m in no rush, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been training; just last month I had completed my ITIL Foundation Certificate in Service management, and I am currently in the process of completing my CompTIA Security+ training.
  • I feel as I’ve moved roles and gone on to a role that’s kept me busy, I’ve naturally become more organised. And, if I’m honest, if I left things to the last minute in my role, I’d likely be in trouble.
  • My big giveback project for this year has been to focus on this Apprentice blog but I will cover this in detail later on in the post.
  • I most definitely have not given up on my gym routine. In fact, these days I generally feel a lot fitter, don’t get tired as easily and my family have noticed changes too. Not to mention going to the gym is a good release after a long day at work. (It’s not always fun and games)
  • I’ve definitely broadened my horizons in regards to holidays this year; in March I went to Tenerife and in September I ventured across the pond to spend my 22nd birthday in New York. Next year, I am heading off to Barcelona and Portugal and have plans to go to the Maldives.

So while I may not have definitively achieved all my goals, I’ve made great progress towards them, and for the ones I have achieved they are significant milestones for me in my life and my career.

One significant milestone is completing and passing my apprenticeship. This means that I have now been officially recognised for all the hard work I have done over the two years I’ve been on the apprenticeship.

What does this mean now?
Passing the apprenticeship now frees me up to start working on Career Framework, where I will begin to put together my promotion case so I can transition smoothly into the business. Passing my apprenticeship also coincided nicely with celebrating my second year at IBM which means that I have exactly one year left in Foundation to get promoted. It also means I have one year left to get qualified in as much as I can.

On top of achieving my goals, and passing my apprenticeship, I am also immensely proud with the progress of the IBM UK Apprentice blog. If you are an eagle-eyed follower of the blog, you’ll see that I’ve been around on the blog for a while and have made a number of good posts. I have also been working with a few of the authors behind the scenes as part of the IBM UK Apprentice Blog Administrator team.

At the tail end of last year, we set our agenda for 2015 to be the year we really start getting the momentum going and do what we can to increase our readership. I set myself the task to research into ways of improving the end-user experience for our readers as well as improve things behind the scenes for the other authors. You may have noticed some of these changes in the form of the search bar (we didn’t have one before), the tag cloud (the bigger the word, the more popular it is), author accounts and general Search Engine Optimisation as well as other minor cosmetic changes. I have also had the privilege of implementing a streamlined publishing process which allows us to get great content out faster and at the best times for our readers.

As I am responsible for the Blog site, I also see all the stats. And it’s looking at the stats that makes me proud of the work that the whole of the Apprentice Blog team have done this year. Compared to the same period last year, we more than doubled unique views (people reading our articles) and we are on track to double unique visitors (new people reading our articles), not to mention our content reaching over 60 countries around the world. This is an impressive achievement and exceeded the expectations we set ourselves at the end of last year. You see why it’s good to set S.M.A.R.T goals?

With all these achievements over 2015, it got me thinking about my goals and what I wanted to do over 2016. The next year, being my promotion year, looks to be my busiest yet and I look to focus and prioritise training and education as well as my day to day role.

It is these goals I have set myself that made me decide it best that I take a step back from blogging duties, so I can really focus on performing to the best of my ability.

From this moment on, I will taking a backseat role on the blog and look to drive our gathering momentum from behind the scenes. While I wont be blogging, I will, however, be taking over from Oliver as co-owner of the blog with Avtar, and we have some great ideas lined up for the team in 2016.

On that note, I feel it’s high time I wrapped this show up. It’s been an absolute pleasure writing for the blog and I’ve received some fantastic feedback as a result so I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to you for staying awake throughout my ramblings! I will now leave you in the hands of our great authors who I am confident will continue their great work.

Signing out…

Craig Wilkinson

Where are they now? – Tom

Hello It’s me Tom.C back with another Blog Post. The 10th of September 2015 marked a very important date for me – the end of my 3 year apprenticeship. To be perfectly honest I can’t believe the time has gone so quickly. For other apprenticeships now would be time to find out if the company you have been working for still wants to take you on, IBM is not like that. On the day you are accepted into the apprenticeship you have a full-time job. The only real difference being that you no longer have a Early Professional Manager, instead you have a People Manager (PEM) – so your manager changes and that’s about it.

I’ve had a fantastic time at IBM and I plan to continue work here. I’ve had 6 different roles, a wealth of both on the job/external training and lots of interesting challenges on the way. You may remember in my last blog post I set a series of goals I wanted to complete before the apprenticeship finished. They were:

  1. Become a Certified Redhat System Engineer
  2. Achieve a CompTIA Security+ Certification
  3. Become a CREST Certified Ethical Hacker
  4. Gain a Windows Qualification
  5. Increase my “Social presence”

Lets first start with the Systems Engineer. This was by far the hardest exam I have done within the apprenticeship and it took me two tries to pass. I failed the first time by 5% so spun up a Redhat virtual machine at home to help revise for the second attempt and I passed! I am extremely happy with the result. I know so much more about Redhat and have used everything I learnt in my Job.

Next is the CompTIA Security+. I would really recommend the online training along with the exam. The site asks you a series of questions and it you get them right it stops asking you so as you progress through the questions the revision adapts to what you don’t know. If you get a question wrong it will tell you the answer and a block of text explaining all the details. I have learnt a great deal more about security – everything through different Access Models to Type of Intruder Detection Systems.

The “Certified Ethical Hacker infrastructure Testing” has to be one of my Highlights of this year. I have never been so interested in a course. I learnt about all the different tools and techniques used to hack into both Windows and Linux Systems. breaking into email accounts, hacking smaba, hijacking internet traffic, elevating privileges. You name it! The best part was you got to try all theses methods and more on real systems. Very interesting and it has allowed me to defend against the attacks on projects. I recently followed up the infrastructure Hacking with hacking into WiFi which still remained the Practical aspect and it was extremely interesting to learn all about the cryptography behind WiFi.

I am still looking to achieving a Windows Qualification hopefully I can work on that in the near future.

Sadly my Social presence has stayed rather the same. A few tweets here and there but it is something I need to approve on. I am currently working on some Programming and electronics projects so once they are nearing completion I hope to write / tweet about them.

Its been a Fantastic Year. I have achieved three additional qualifications in the subject I enjoy and will be following up with a new Release on Project.

Looking back on my three years at IBM, I feel a great sense of achievement. I still remember my first day in the office sitting down and wondering what was next. I remember my first task and I look back on the first script I wrote and I have come a long way since. It really has been a great experience.

Its also been a interesting journey. I started off working to maintain an Application called “TAD4D” then progressed into the AIX team where I helped out in my first ever Release. I then moved on to join other projects and help with the Identity and Access Management. I got involved with other internal IBM projects such as Wimbledon and even got to architect a solution for one of the new programmes. All of this eventually ended me up in the infrastructure and Security mix I am in now.

Along the way I’ve also been lucky enough to have picked up some awards – Apprentice of the Year South Central Region 2014 and Apprentice of the Year South East Region 2015. I’ve also been become a BCS IT Apprentice of the Year 2015 Finalist and part of the new RITTeck program.

So what happens now? I have really enjoyed my apprenticeship and am looking forward to see what comes from being a full IBMer. I plan to continue here at IBM. Our program seems to have many new projects on the horizon which I am looking forward to getting stuck into. We are going to start using Redhat 7 so I can put my Certification to good use and work on using new Open Source product like docker. I’ve also made some good friends on projects and I enjoy working in the team. My plan is to continue developing my skills and aim to become a distinguished Engineer. Lets see how it goes!

That was me Tom.C. See you next time.

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!