Tag Archives: graduation

Graduation and the road to Promotion – Craig Wilkinson


It’s me again! I know it’s been a while since I last posted but I thought I’d use some downtime productively and fill you in on some exciting milestones I’m currently experiencing in my time as an IBM Apprentice.

If you’re an avid and regular reader of our Blog, I’m sure you have a general gist of how the Apprentice scheme at IBM works. You join as a permanent IBM employee from day one, have two weeks of essential induction being taught how to work the IBM way safely and professionally, start in real roles, doing real work with real Clients, attend tailored IBM education courses to improve professional effectiveness, teamwork and communication, as well as learn how to handle relationships with the Client and during all this you are looked after by the Foundation team for three years.

You will also know that by the time you come to the end of the three years, the essential part of proving your education to earn the qualification, graduation and progression into the business as a regular IBMer await you.

As you may have read from my previous posts, I am now in that crucial, final stretch of the Apprenticeship and have achieved my Apprentice qualification. What has happened since then? I officially graduated!

On 14th March 2016, coinciding with the start of National Apprenticeship Week (read what IBM Apprentices did here), we celebrated the graduation of 28 Apprentices (including myself) who had worked hard over roughly two to three years and achieved their Apprentice Qualifications.

14th March 2016 Apprentice Graduation

The Graduation day was held in IBM Southbank, London, and celebrated the success of the Apprentices over the two-to-three years as well as continually blowing the trumpet for the opportunities and success for Apprentices in general.

IBM UK General Manager David Stokes was also in attendance of the event and explained his passion for Apprenticeships and the impact Apprentices have had for IBM in the UK. Along with David, we also had a talk from Foundation leader Jenny Taylor and the Apprenticeship leader Jez Brooks. Also, a special  mention to the many parents, siblings, partners and friends that came along to celebrate!

Once the Graduation day ended and all the handshakes and certificates had been given out, many Apprentices disbanded from their family and friends and joined other Apprentices in various drinking establishments to celebrate the proper way.

Once the fun of Graduation and the celebration of being Apprentice went away and the normality of work returned, what did I do? I begun working on my promotion case.

The criteria for an Apprentice to progress from Foundation into the business as a ‘normal’ IBMer is to create a promotion package in an IBM tool called Career Framework and provide the relevant evidence so, once approved, you would be proposed for the next promotion level. The promotion package pretty much sums up the work you have done as an Apprentice and allows you to progress and obtain higher levels if that is where your ambitions lie.

I recently had my promotion approved which means that any day I will receive communication that I have been promoted which is a very important milestone in anyone’s career and especially important when you’re an IBM Apprentice as it would mean that you are now being progressed into business and will be considered just like any other IBM.

I’ve been told by a few ex-Apprentices that the journey really begins once you’re promoted!

– Craig Wilkinson




What changes after you graduate? – Avtar Marway

Hi all, it’s Avtar Marway here, back with another blog!
As you may be aware, the theme for recent blogs have been about IBM Apprentices who have graduated out of the apprenticeship scheme and today my blog will be about what changes when you graduate.

When you start your apprenticeship with IBM, you are already considered a permanent IBM employee. You are given a duration of 3 years to complete your apprenticeship, and once these 3 years are complete, your title as an apprentice is taken away, and you are just known as an ‘IBMer’.
When you graduate, you are still considered a permanent IBM employee so there is no change in your status as an IBM employee.

Another thing that doesn’t change when you graduate out of the apprenticeship scheme is your role and service line. Unless you decide to change roles, or request to change your service line, you will still be in the same role that you were in before. This means, you can continue to work in the profession that you would like to after you finish your apprenticeship.

Now, what does change? In IBM, there are different bands, and different levels that you can be. The higher these levels are, the more dependent your role becomes. For example, a higher band role could be a Test Manager role, whereas a lower band role could be a Test Analyst role. When you are an apprentice, you start in an educational band, and progress to the first professional band. Once you have graduated out of the apprenticeship scheme, you can progress up through the bands. However, being in a lower band does not mean you can’t do higher band roles. It just means you will not be in the band that most manager roles etc are already in. You are not limited to specific roles based on your band type.

Another thing that changes is that you’re no longer part of Foundation! As an apprentice, you have an Early Professionals Manager (EPM), who is there to help develop your skills, as well as be your manager at IBM. An EPM is only there for you during your Apprenticeship and while you are in Foundation. Once you have progressed out of the apprenticeship world, you also progress out of Foundation, which means you no longer have an EPM. Instead, you have a PeM which is a People Manager.

Is that all that changes? Nope! There are a few more things… such as not having to complete specific documents like IBM journals which lead toward completing your OCR mapping document. The OCR mapping document is used in the apprenticeship scheme in order to help you complete your Apprenticeship qualification. As you’ve completed your apprenticeship, you will no longer be required to complete these.

I’m sure I’ve given you a few points of what changes and what stays the same when you graduate out of the apprenticeship scheme. And I’m sure, if you’re interested, you’ll want to find out more.
So as usual… feel free to tweet me @AvtarMarway, message me on LinkedIn “Avtar Marway” or email me “AvtarMar@uk.ibm.com, if you have any questions, queries about the IBM Apprenticeship scheme or IBM in general!

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.

Where are they now? – Ryan McManus

Well I’m still in IBM and no I’m not the CEO …just yet! I have now progressed into “the business” and like Oli and Lewis, I have completed the Apprenticeship after an amazing 3 years! I have not got a new job title or changed my job – So what is the difference?

The difference is my knowledge and my view on the world of work.

Looking back at my apprenticeship I have had 7 different job types on 4 different accounts/locations. Some roles I learned more on than others, some clients were more structured than others, but every single one of them was different and unique in their own right. Every single one of them taught me new skills and made me think differently to solve complex challenges.

I have now gained a breadth of knowledge in multiple areas of IBM. I am more than confident that the knowledge base I have gained shall serve me well no matter what career path I go down. It’s not just the role knowledge I have gained, I have also gained people skills and learned how to interact with different clients, IBM’ers and work with different cultures. I have developed new and different ways of thinking / working to help me perform to my best ability.

I dared to challenge myself and if I’m being honest, not all of my decisions turned out how I expected, but I sure did learn and develop from every single one of them. By challenging myself I proved myself to others which led to more responsibility and in turn gave me knowledge at a faster pace! When I think back, I have seen myself go from role to role gaining more responsibility or challenge in each one of them which really defines the term “development”!

At the start of my apprenticeship I only really knew of (and wanted to be) the job role that was abbreviated PM (Project Manager). Over the 3 years I have experienced roles that I never really knew existed and ones that at the beginning I thought “it’s just not for me”. But the apprenticeship has given me an insight into roles that I now want to explore further and are a huge interest to me! IBM is a massive company and you could set up a 20 year apprenticeship and not get through the all the areas, so I had to pick roles wisely and be realistic in the paths I wanted to explore.

Gained the contacts – At the end of my 3 years one of my biggest assets is my contacts list. I have built an extensive network that can open new doors and can link me back to some of the career paths that I explored earlier on in my apprenticeship.

I have developed my understanding of the market and business I am actually in. Sure I had an understanding of what IBM did before (they did computer stuff right…?) Now I actually know how IBM operates, the processes and models within a business and the markets they are involved in. But more importantly I know why they are in those markets. I can use this to understand how to deliver real benefit to our clients and understand the challenges our clients face and what can be done to solve them.

It’s not all work work work. You have to have a social life too right? I have met some amazing people and made some great friends all of which have led to some great experiences throughout the apprenticeship!

Do I now have a firm and confirmed career path I want to follow? No…but I’m not far away. I know what I enjoyed and I know what I was good and not so good at. I shall now look to explore the areas I have enjoyed the most, but also where I know my skill set lies, to hopefully lead to great achievements and a prosperous future within IBM!

So it’s not really where am I now as I’m just setting off on my journey…its more about                           “what have I done to prepare myself for my journey”.

Ryan McManus

Where are they now? – Lewis Davies

Wow how time flies! Like the creator of the IBM apprentice blog, our very own Oliver Pope-Mostowicz, I too have just celebrated my 3rd Anniversary at IBM. Oliver and I were lucky enough to be on the same induction week and have stayed in contact throughout our time as apprentices despite working at different locations. It was really interesting to see how differently our careers have progressed from the same grass roots we shared at the induction.

So naturally it’s a great time to reflect on the highlights of my last 3 years and think about what’s next after the apprenticeship.

Let’s start with the highlights! Firstly transitioning to a technical role from a business focused background. When I started IBM I was somewhat under the impression I would be channeled in to a project management or service delivery career path. Starting a technical role was a completely new and alien idea but I would argue the best step for my career yet. Whether I remain technically focused or not the things I have learnt and the concepts understood will stay with me and can be applied wherever my career takes me and should ensure I don’t suffer fools so easily should I go back to a more business focused role. Secondly becoming a Cisco Certified Network Associate. In the world of networking this is the first foot in the ladder of qualifications and shows a good knowledge of most networking concepts and can be used alongside other qualifications such as the MCSE (Microsoft qualification path) to create a strong and desirable CV! My third highlight was from around a year in to the scheme but I feel still holds some merit to this day. Completing the IBM Professional Skills Class (a course that simulates competing for a client bid over one week in a high pressure environment) with perhaps the highest average score ever seen and being awarded a nice bottle of bubbly to accompany. (My average was 1.89 for any IBMers reading who know the scoring system 1 being excellent 6 being failed).

Post apprenticeship? It’s really satisfying to have become a full IBMer and to have graduated the apprenticeship scheme. The fact your pay is able to rise significantly overnight shows how much value apprentices are creating for IBM even before they graduate the scheme. I’m currently involved with a project that will be moving data centers from the IBM Farnborough office which is closing, to the IBM Hursley site near Winchester. All my efforts are currently in preparation for this with the move set to happen early next year. It’s a huge piece of work and it’s not something I anticipate I will see again in my career any time soon. So it’s all hands to the pumps to get this moving and a rather action packed 2-3 weeks while the move actually takes place! Also a new site means new connections and hence new opportunities. All my experiences so far have been in the public sector accounts so I would be interested to see the differences working for a private sector client. I’d like to continue to build my skills in networking and eventually progress in to an architectural role.

So farewell apprenticeship and hello life as a full IBMer!

Lewis Davies

Congratulations ….

Graduation of the 37 Apprentices who joined IBM in September 2012

Graduation of the 37 Apprentices who joined IBM in September 2012

A massive congratulations to the 37 IBM Apprentices’ who graduated from the first half of their Apprenticeship and achieved their Level 3 OCR Apprenticeship award!