Tag Archives: new starter

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.

Year 1 Reflections – Richard Cure

Hi! I’m Richard and I’d like to share with you in my first blog post on how I got to IBM, my current role right now, and what I have learnt so far from my experiences with IBM.

My journey so far:

Having finished A-Levels with grades in Computing, Maths and Spanish in summer 2014 I knew I wanted to pursue a career in IT or Spanish. I ended up applying to Bristol University to study Computer Science with a year abroad and was lucky enough to receive an offer.

I also looked at apprenticeships as I knew they were viable alternatives to university. So in addition to my university application I applied to a handful of IT companies for their apprenticeship schemes, IBM being one of them.

After passing some online tests I was sent to Reading, for an assessment centre for another company’s apprenticeship scheme and naturally I was rather nervous. I did my best in the group activities and received an offer, but first I wanted to see what IBM could offer me. After a phone interview with an IBM employee and more online tests I travelled to Portsmouth for my second assessment centre. The day went well and a presentation from existing IBM apprentices affirmed what I already knew about the benefits of the scheme and what would happen for the duration of the apprenticeship.

A few months later I was contacted again to set up a final interview for the role I am doing now. This time however I felt relaxed and confident going into it because I knew what to expect having experienced interviews in my previous assessment centres. I think this showed in the interview and I was ecstatic to receive confirmation that I would start at IBM shortly after, so long as onboarding checks and associated paperwork etc. went well, which they did.

So overall it was a long process, but well worth it in the end.

Before joining IBM I had to make the difficult decision to defer my university offer but half a year later, I ultimately rejected my offer – this wasn’t too difficult after having worked as an apprentice for a while.

Now I’ve spent the last year and a bit on an IBM Programme mainly made up of application development projects aiming to develop, support and maintain a number of applications for an interesting customer and it’s been great!

What I’m doing now:

To explain a bit more about my main role – I’m working as a Build Specialist in the Server Build team, which entails looking after 200+ servers being used by my colleagues for project work (for those reading who aren’t sure what a “server” is, think of a server being like a powerful desktop computer without a monitor which performs a specific task). Our main responsibilities in the Build team are to make sure the servers are up to date software-wise and fixing any issues related to the computer environment which come our way before we hand over the servers to the test team. If testing is successful then whatever we have installed on our systems ends up in the hands of the customer to install on their systems, so it’s important we get it right first time and don’t miss anything! All these servers perform different roles and have different hardware and software requirements and specifications, so there’s been a lot learnt over the last year and for sure more to come.

In this role I’ve applied a variety of different skills, ranging from technical skills – understanding and operating the systems running on the servers (we’ve got at least 3: Windows, Linux and AIX – IBM’s own version of Linux) to personal skills – dealing with the customer, and speaking to them to arrange hardware fixes as the physical side of the servers are managed by the customer, to practical hands on skills – looking after the hardware devices physically in the office such as printers and taking responsibility for them.

The project likes to test us in different areas too, so in addition to my primary job role I’m also doing a Measurements Analyst role. It’s a natural fit for me because in this role I have free reign to look at the all data produced from the Programme which is held from a wide range of sources – databases, project logs, etc. and collate it to make sense of it, which I really enjoy. This means I get to build on my programming skills acquired from A-Level study and create informative graphs and charts which I present regularly to management. Recently I’ve been challenged with developing the estimation tool for faults used by the Project Managers to create estimates which feed in to the scheduling of their projects. This meant researching, understanding, and implementing linear regression and other statistical concepts such as Cook’s Distance into the existing tool, so I had to dig out my old statistics revision notes to help me out – who says you’ll never use Maths in your day job!

Thirdly, another role I’ve been assigned is Software Quality Analyst where I get to learn about the different software projects by interviewing the Project Managers and personnel involved and at the end of it, produce a report on whether they’ve been following best practices and procedures to ensure the quality of the project and its deliverables (by deliverables I mean work produced like software packages and project documentation to be given to the customer).

Overall it’s a lot of work, and really tests me as an early professional day in day out, but as a consequence I’ve grown in confidence, widened my knowledge and gained vital experience which you could argue university students and graduates lack to a degree (excuse the pun).

The main things I’ve learnt:

Qualifications aren’t everything. Sure they help to set a bench mark for knowledge, but it really is about the skills you can offer, and how you perform within a team to a) get things done b) add value to the business c) grow yourself, skills and career.

What things I was strong at, and what things I thought I was good at but actually wasn’t and need to work on more.

About independent living – I’ve had to move away from home and orientate myself in a new city, which has been really exciting but daunting at the same time.

How to navigate IBM. IBM is huge and have offices across the world, therefore you can’t avoid the news about what the company is doing. When I started I did find it difficult to work out which parts to pay attention to and which parts to filter out because everything was exciting and new to me. The structure and organisation side of IBM such as the employee’s homepage has improved a lot recently so it’s easier to find your way around and also now I have a feeling of the topics which interest me more than others, so I can channel my efforts and energy into what’s most important at the time. Also there’s a whole network of people you can ask to point you in the right direction.

Make the most of your time off – when you compare a full time job to studying the difference in free time is light years – so I’ve learnt to appreciate how valuable your spare time is. IBM supports you with this in the fact you can buy or sell holiday days in addition to the 25 days each year plus bank holidays. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to go on holiday to see Australia and New Zealand a few weeks ago which was amazing. I certainly would not have had been able to do this had I been at University!

Hard work pays off – I was recognised by the Programme Manager in the form of a Project Award only a few months after I joined. This really surprised me but definitely made me feel valued as part of the team even though I was only there for a short period of time.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my first post, and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead – summer, training courses, the eventual completion of my apprenticeship qualification, and more posts of course!

Richard

Stepping into IBM – Gus Parkhouse

More than 872,000 people were employed on government funded apprenticeships during the 2014/2015 academic year and I was fortunate enough to be one of them at IBM. I wanted to join the IBM apprenticeship scheme because I saw our products everywhere and heard how IBM worked with the majority of big corporations. I wanted to be involved in that!

When I first got the email and phone call that I had been accepted onto the IBM apprenticeship scheme I was overwhelmed by a wave of emotions, I was ecstatic, nervous, apprehensive and proud – all at the same time. I didn’t even know this was possible. I, of course, immediately informed my Mum and passed on the good news.

Once the excitement had simmered down a bit, I was overtaken by nerves and a sense of worry that I wouldn’t have the knowledge or experience to competently perform the role I was going to be assigned. Over the next few days from receiving the good news I was swarmed by emails informing me of the next steps, what I needed to send in and what I needed to complete before my start date (the more admin side of things). I knew these emails were meant to be helpful but, honestly, it just made me more nervous. Fortunately the foundation team set up a call for the new apprentices to chat to a foundation early professional’s manager and learn more about what to expect on the induction course. This was great as I felt like I was finally getting to know some of my peers, albeit over the phone.

I really wanted to get their opinions of the hiring process and how they found it all. The general consensus seemed to be the same as mine: that the online skills test was impossibly hard but somehow we passed it and the interviews, as daunting as they were, were actually quite nice once I got over my nerves and managed to string a few sentences together. It was a great opportunity to showcase past experiences. Whilst waiting to start the apprenticeship I kept thinking which ever role I got, technical or business, I would definitely need training to make sure I had the adequate skills required. I thought the overall hiring process was quite long but looking back at it I think, with the vast amount of applicants, it couldn’t really be shortened or it might seem a bit rushed. As my start date got closer I couldn’t help but feel a bit scared and intimidated that I would be joining a team of more experienced IBMers and may not meet their standards.

Once I started on my induction course I was very promptly met by the other new apprentices, who I’m happy to say were both excited and nervous about the apprenticeship as well. It was nice to get to know my fellow apprentices finding out about their backgrounds and what prompted them to apply in a quick “ice breaker” session. Over the course of the two week induction there was a lot of information to take in, ranging from how to use our new laptops down to how binary works. I feel that although the information I was being taught was helpful it was all completely necessary, but I am finding a lot of it is coming in handy as I’m going through the apprenticeship. On the first day I met my Early Professionals Manager who was incredibly helpful and welcoming which was great as I found out I’d be meeting with him quite regularly. The first week was very “new joiner” focused like getting through documentation and health and safety. I’d say a lot of this I knew before I had started but it had to be covered. The second week was a lot more intense and interactive as we were learning about different parts of technology that we may come across. At the end of the technology week we split into groups and presented a final presentation on what we learnt over the two weeks and what were the key points to us.

During my induction I was contacted by an IBMer and informed that I was placed in an Infrastructure Architect role which was incredibly exciting. I’ve never had a job role like that before it sounded like unlimited possibilities. Not so bright but early on Monday morning I arrived at work to meet my new manager and peers, I was keen to learn more about my role and to make a great first impression as I knew I’d be around my team mates a lot. When I arrived in the office I was greeted by my line manager who was quick to introduce me to the rest of the team in the office. This consisted of 3 other apprentices and 4 senior architects. As the day went on I got to know my team and what they were working on – they were all very inviting and knowledgeable. The apprentices within the room took me for a brew and a chat to impart some early tips and advice for starting up. Unsurprisingly there first tip was to do the mandatory education first so that you have time freed up for my project when I’m aligned to one. The other apprentices in my team had a lot of tips to pass on and just proved what I had been told by my early professional’s manager on my induction that “Everyone is willing to help and share information”. So no surprise I decided to get started on the learning I had been assigned for both on boarding and for my architecture role. I was slightly overwhelmed by the amount of learning I had to do straight away, although I have not used a lot of it I can see parts of it being useful in the future. Through doing the education and chatting to the team I was able to learn an exceptional amount about my new role and began to want an account to do work for.

Within a few weeks of starting at IBM I had been assigned a task manager and an account, and I was quickly given work to do for my task manager. I quickly learnt that I was capable to deliver the work being asked of me and asked for more to help stretch my comfort zone and hopefully learn faster. My mentor and task manager understood I was an apprentice and helped me only when I needed it – so I was not spoon fed. Once I had the workload under control I wanted to get some further training which IBM agreed to put me on to continually grow as an employee and a person in general. I am proud to be an IBMer!

Musings of an Apprentice – Avtar Marway

And for the first post of the year, please welcome a new face to the team – Avtar Marway.  Avtar joined us at the end of last year, and has written up his thoughts on joining the Apprenticeship scheme, which you can read below.  Avtar has the privilege of being the first author published on this blog in 2015, and also of marking the old ways of doing things.  As of February, the IBM Apprentice blog will be looking a little different – we will be running blog miniseries, each kicked off by a senior IBMer, and then running through all the authors on the same topic.  This way you will get some idea of the breadth of life in IBM and how a single topic can be lived and perceived many different ways.  We are sure this will be an extremely exciting year for us on the blog, and we hope you continue to follow us and read more.

And now, without any further ado … Avtar Marway:

 

Hey! My name’s Avtar Marway and this is my first post on the IBM Apprentice Blog!
I joined the IBM Apprentice scheme in September 2014 and I’m currently working for a large banking client; as a performance tester.
In this blog, I’m going to talk about my thoughts and feelings that I’ve had since I started at IBM as an apprentice.

 

During my life, I’ve watched my family, friends and relatives all depart home to study at University and I thought I would have to follow the tradition of going to University. In my second year of 6th Form I decided to apply to university and applied through UCAS where I ended up receiving offers from all of the universities that I applied to! The social life, social interaction and tradition were the main attributes luring me to go to University. On the other hand, I didn’t think university was for me – as I didn’t think that I was best suited for the method of learning that University offers – and I didn’t want to come out of University without a job guaranteed. So I spoke with my Dad and Uncle and they told me that I should apply for an apprenticeship. My uncle highly recommended that I apply to the IBM apprenticeship; so I did and here I am now.

 

Since I started the scheme at IBM, I’ve had a lot of positive thoughts and very little negative thoughts. When I first started my project, I didn’t know many people and felt jealous of my friends who had been posting images and videos of their “University Freshers Week” via Snapchat and Facebook. It made me feel like I should’ve gone to university and gave me doubts about the apprenticeship scheme. I felt this way for a few days until I realised that every single person feels this way – whether it’s getting or joining a job/account, college, school or anything else. I understood that everyone has to make new friends and that it wasn’t just me who felt this way.
I then started to socialise with a lot more people and became more confident in inviting people out to meals as well as social events. I started to appreciate that I had got into a company as fantastic as IBM where support was given in all directions. I had support from ‘IBM buddies’, apprentices, grads, managers and other IBM employees to complete tasks, as well as with other issues. I spent most weekends socialising with my friends and family and I was really happy. My friends and family members who were at University were worried about having enough money to last them through the rest of the semester as well as being able to hand in assignments on time. I didn’t have to worry about any of these things which made my life easier.
My role then kicked off and I have become very busy! I made sure that I was still socialising with friends after work as well as keeping up to date with work. After a few weeks of starting my role, I started to enjoy the lifestyle. I was working hard, learning and getting paid at the same time then having dinner, playing football, bowling etc with other apprentices, grads and employees working on the Account.

 

That’s my journey so far. I started off the apprenticeship by having doubts, being jealous, worried about my life and whether I had made the right decision on not going to University. My feelings then became more positive as I started to realise that each and every single person experiences being new and not knowing anybody. This realisation altered my thoughts and feelings about the apprenticeship scheme and I started to enjoy and appreciate my apprenticeship and IBM even more.
I’ve learnt more about life and being independent through the apprenticeship scheme than I feel I would’ve at university. As well as this, I feel that the hands on approach to learning is much better for me.
My current thoughts and feelings for the IBM Apprenticeship Scheme are positive and I hope they remain this way throughout the rest of my apprenticeship and rest of my IBM career. 🙂

Adam Stankevitch – an Introduction …

 

Hello, a big welcome from me! My name is Adam, and I hope you enjoy reading about my experience as an IBM apprentice and take something positive away from it. I joined IBM in April 2014 so I am technically still classed as a new recruit to the company, but what I have learnt and experienced in this time is well worth sharing!

After leaving secondary school I decided to enrol on a BTEC National Diploma in IT practitioners’ course at my local college, which allowed me to explore the inner workings of computers and networking, something that I believe started my passion for the IT industry. The course allowed me to build my knowledge in computing and explore the potential channels I could pursue later in my career. It wasn’t until I started University the following year that I realised that classroom learning wasn’t for me anymore, so I decided to pursue something that I would find more rewarding; hence my search for an apprenticeship began. I have always known that an IT apprenticeship is a great way to start a career and you are able to earn a full salary at the same time, both of which University didn’t offer. I was made aware of the IBM Apprenticeship scheme through the website ‘Not Going To Uni’, which is where all of IBM’s impressive array of facts and figures really caught my eye. The reason I decided to apply for this particular scheme ahead of others of a similar nature was first and foremost for the reputation IBM has in the IT industry. In addition to this the structure of the Apprenticeship was another major factor I considered: I could gain industry recognised qualifications whilst earning and learning at the same time. The application process for the apprenticeship is very well organised, with each part of the process being well managed: from the original CV submission right through to the assessment centres. One thing that stood out for me during the assessment centre was that IBM ‘want’ you to become their apprentices – it was not like traditional interviews – rather a relaxed atmosphere for applicants to really show their best self.

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After being accepted onto the scheme I spent two weeks at a picturesque hotel enrolled onto IBM’s induction scheme. The induction was a real eye opener for me as this was the time where I had the opportunity to learn a lot more about what IBM is all about and what they expect of me. There were plenty of presentations and group work sessions to allow us all to give our views on a variety of topics.

I had the chance to meet some amazing people during my induction, all of which I am still in frequent contact with. This brings me on to my next point in fact, in which becoming an IBM Apprentice is probably the best way to meet a host of likeminded professionals and become part of a huge community from day one.

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After the two weeks was up, it was time to join the vast array of Apprentices’ already working with IBM clients right across the UK. My allocated client site was based in Preston and the job role revolves around Incident Management. I am part of the ‘triage team’ that deals with errors and malfunctions in business critical applications. As a result, there is plenty for me to learn from this role and I hope to establish a depth of knowledge on these applications in the coming months. IBM encourages apprentices to enter in a role rotation scheme in which it is possible to switch teams after 6 months, meaning the range of opportunities on offer is beyond anything you would likely find elsewhere.

IBM work with well established organisations in a variety of different sectors, so there is always the opportunity to pursue new roles on a regular basis. One aspect of working at IBM that I really enjoy is that everyone is on first name basis, regardless of position. This is a great way to create a more relaxed working environment and allows us as apprentice’s to feel part of a community from the start. Apprentices even become official IBMers from the off, which is something you will later learn is a worthy title to be given!

In this short space of time as an IBM apprentice I have experienced a bundle of new situations and found myself working with a lot of interesting people. I am positive that IBM will continue to provide me with the opportunities I need to pursue my career aspirations over the coming years, but for now I will keep you updated of how I’m progressing in my first few months as an IBM Apprentice.

Thanks for reading. See you soon!

 

Hollie Sauvage – An Introduction…

Hello, my name is Hollie, I am 21 years old and a new IBM recruit through the latest Apprenticeship intake in April 2014. Although based in Warwick, I am working on an IBM base working for one particular client in Preston.

I found out about the IBM Apprenticeship through a friend who has been an apprentice with IBM for over 2 years. He explained to me the many, many opportunities available, and the opportunity to follow nearly any career pathway within IBM. This was something that massively interested me, did not feel like a step back at all, and after having gone to college to do a degree if anything I’d wished I done it sooner!

My application to the IBM Apprenticeship started in November 2013. Initially, the first step was to complete and submit the application form and IBM provided CV. The next step was an online aptitude test, and then my CV was reviewed again, all before even being interviewed! The assessment centre involved group tasks, presentations and also interviews with many IBMers, which although scary, was a fantastic chance to meet some of the other apprentices helping out on the day, and finding out some more information about the Apprenticeship.

After all of that, I was accepted onto the Apprenticeship and started in April this year. My first two weeks as an IBMer involved a two week induction where we learnt all about IBM, the Apprenticeship scheme and got to know some of our fellow apprentices and other IBMers. I found induction to be a great opportunity for me to be able to learn some technical skills, something I didn’t have before joining IBM, and some of the IBMers who taught different courses on the induction were fantastic in teaching these technical skills. Most of the other apprentices on my induction were not technical apprentices either so it was good to all be in the same boat and not have to worry that my skills were behind anyone else. All of the other IBMers made us feel at ease that technical skills were not essential, and if needed most skills would be learnt on the job.

During induction, we also found out which projects we would be working on after induction. I found out I was working on a project in Preston, with one of the other apprentices I started on Induction with. This made my first day far less scary as I was starting with someone else. On induction, we also met another IBMer who works in our team in Preston (she was on a different course) and we were able to then find a little more out about the project, so that we had some more information on the project before we began.

My role within the project is incident management, so if a fault occurs within the clients systems, that fault information is then sent to us, where we pass it onto the relevant team to fix the fault. Since starting on the project, I have also had the opportunity to be able to support one of the Service Delivery Managers with a reporting task and also sign up for other training opportunities within the project, working with other teams.

Although I am still fairly new to the project, currently only 4 weeks in, I feel that my move to IBM is perfect in that it enables me to be able to take on new opportunities and roles, and move wherever my skills and experiences will allow me.