Tag Archives: Placement

My Placement Year at IBM – Maddie Coutts

Hi everyone! I’ve been asked to write a guest post for you all seeing as I’ve been a member of the behind-the-scenes blogging team. So here goes…

I’m currently in my third year at the University of Leeds studying BA Management and as part of my course I opted to do a placement year/year in industry. I chose to go to University because it was a better fit for myself and I wanted to continue my education whilst playing hockey for one of the top teams in the country. However, from the start I knew I wanted to do a placement year because I think gaining real work experience is one of the most valuable things you can do.

So I did what anyone looking for a job does … began searching! IBM was the first application I completed because the name had always been on my mind and I was impressed to see they offered a Marketing placement. From then on, whilst waiting to hear if I’d successfully passed the IPAT test, I filled out more applications for other companies. After a successful assessment centre, which was so much more relaxed than I would have thought, I entered the ‘matching’ process. The first match was quite a Technical Marketing role (yes it does exist!) down in Hursley, however, my first preference was for the Southbank office. This was one of the trickiest decisions I have made to date – do I accept the job even though my heart was set on working in London or do I risk not finding a placement and reject it? Well that’s the great thing about IBM – if you say no they will try and find you another match (although not always guaranteed) and that’s what happened.

My role during my placement year has been the Schools & Universities Attractions Coordinator which basically means I am responsible for the marketing activities to attract candidates to IBM. A lot of this is social media based, generating all content for Facebook and Twitter, alongside managing our careers website and creating promotional videos. I also work closely with companies such as Rate My Apprenticeship and Target Jobs and I create our online profile and any adverts we have on their sites. At first I found this challenging as it required extensive use of Photoshop however IBM were supportive in helping me acquire this skill.

Being an intern means that like Apprentices and Graduates I am part of Foundation. This is a great programme because, even within such a large organisation, there’s a real feeling of community among the ‘younger’ IBMers and there are always social activities going on across all schemes at each location. I have also found myself attend lots of Giveback events with IBMers from different schemes and backgrounds so this is another great way to network.

Some highlights for me during my year at IBM have been attending the Target Jobs Awards (where we won Best Apprenticeship Programme 2016!) which is where the picture below was taken. I’ve also had to start thinking of which area of IBM I would like to come back into as a Graduate. Watson is one of the most dynamic parts of IBM right now and I would love to come back into this area. As a result of networking and just putting my name out there, the Watson team invited me out to Lisbon to help run an event. This was really amazing because not only did I spend a few days abroad, but I worked closely with executives and partners and the advice I received was invaluable. I also have a pretty exciting end to my year – I’m working at Wimbledon! This was not easy to get as I had to attend an assessment centre against my peers which was slightly strange. But I’m very excited to experience Wimbledon and the amazing partnership they have with IBM.

TJ4

So that’s just a very (very) short summary of my jam packed placement year at IBM. As you can see from my experiences there are a wide range of things to get involved in outside of your role and if I had to give any advice after a year in industry – take control of your future. It’s up to you to put yourself out there and try something different and no matter how you enter IBM, as an Intern, Apprentice or Graduate, I guarantee there will always be support and encouragement from those IBMers around you.

Thanks for having a read and feel free to message me on LinkedIn!

Maddie Coutts

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What has IBM done to me?? – Avtar Marway

Before joining IBM in September 2014, I had only knowledge that I gained from school and from the places that I had worked at. The experience that I had was in IT, but more in a hardware, or the design field. I worked as an IT Technical Support, and had a YouTube channel where my twin brother and I uploaded various videos that we edited. The YouTube channel is called “FranticViperz” if you want to check out some of our old stuff. FYI, some of our videos are deleted as my twin brother cringed at some of the content we made! Anyway, back to the topic… I had barely any experience in the corporate world and working as a consultant.

I’ve been in IBM for almost a year and a half now, and I want to reflect on what I’ve learnt so that you are able to understand what IBM has done to me, and what it can do to you if you work for IBM, whether it’s through an apprenticeship, graduate scheme or other.

I have worked in 3 different fields, with 3 different clients. I was in a Performance Test role at a large building society, then a Technical Support on TADDM role at one of the largest Scottish banks, and now a SAP Performance Analyst Role at a large utility firm. These are 3 different roles that I have been in since joining IBM. A testing role, a technical support role and now a SAP role. I have gained knowledge in these areas that I have worked in. For example, I am able to explain testing, and have knowledge of Performance Testing as well as other testing, such as UAT Testing and Functional Testing. The benefits of being in IBM, is that you are able to change your role if you feel that your role isn’t best suited for you, or if you would like to try something new. IBM has allowed me to experience these areas and gain more knowledge in this way.

IBM have provided me with training and learning which have helped to develop my skills. Although some training that I have completed is specific to Apprentices and assists with our development, there is other training that can be done online, at IBM locations, at client sites etc. For example, when I was a performance tester at a large building society, there were often training and learning sessions held after work, and during lunchtime. Often, I am sent emails about learning offers at IBM bases, and online learning that can help assist me, such as lunch and learn. Now what have these training and learning sessions done? These learning sessions have helped to develop my interpersonal skills, consulting skills, learn more about the client and their area of work.

IBM have spoiled me! It’s the perk of working for a consultancy company. You get sent out to client sites away from your home, and often away from your base location. I’ve worked in 3 different cities. Swindon, London and now Leeds. As these are away from my home, IBM accommodate me and make sure that I am comfortable when I am away from my base location. For those wondering, a base location is your closest IBM location, where you travel to and work without getting expense. IBM Warwick is my base location.

IBM spoiling me is not a bad thing at all. It’s a great thing because it shows how IBM are making sure that you are comfortable in the location that you are working. If you don’t want to stay in a hotel, and would rather commute, you can apply for a company car, providing you are eligible for the scheme that IBM offer. You can also apply for a company car if it is cost effective for IBM. So IBM haven’t really spoiled me, they’ve just made me comfortable in the location that I am working.

So overall, what are the major things that IBM have done to me? They’ve increased my confidence, presentation skills, time management and client interaction skills. They’ve allowed me to get experience in multiple areas, and have allowed me to work in various locations without incurring large expenses. They’ve allowed me to go on internal and external training courses and have provided me with learning that allows me to develop further. They’ve given me a great salary and a great benefits package. I’ve got a great manager who cares about my wellbeing, career and development. They’ve given me all of the support that I need and that’s what IBM have done to me.

IBM are a great company, and I’m glad that I work for this company. Hope you enjoyed reading my blog. If you have any questions regarding The IBM Apprenticeship, Gap Year (Futures) Scheme, Graduate scheme or anything else, feel free to comment asking, tweet me, or message me on LinkedIn.

Avtar Marway