1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Title: Technical Solutions Specialist can't go in to too much detail) Checking the state of systems Performing installations and upgrades Maintain smooth running of systems and troubleshoot (a lot) Internal interactions with members of the various departments where I work External interactions with other members of IBM, mainly virtually in the form of conference calls, emails I also get to do 'giveback' which is going into schools/universities and talk to people about the program
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt technical skills in AIX and Windows but more importantly teamworking skills. Things like how and when to approach people for questions when you need some help, communicating with people with years of experience, understanding and learning new things every day - a sea change from an education environment like school/college. There are a number of external courses that are mandatory for apprentices to go on and on these you get to travel to venues. Mainly it's largely up to you as to what skills you wish to develop as the opportunities are there.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The programme so far has challenged me technically and personally, I enjoy my current role but don't get too comfortable as apprentices are expected to change roles/jobs every 8-9 months for the duration of the apprenticeship (3 years) to give them a variety of experiences. I have found the hours difficult to start with but you get used to it.
4. How valued do you feel by IBM?
You are assessed formally twice a year and project appraisals and things like that happen throughout the year. So if you work hard you will feel valued. You can also put yourself forward for things you think you should be recognised for by applying to the various awards that are up for grabs. Involvement within projects is obviously low to start with when you first start but responsibilities do find their way eventually as experience is gained and things you do well are recognised by senior figures.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
Induction is good - 2 weeks away with other new apprentices at a posh venue, all expenses paid. It gives you a good overview and you learn a lot about IBM there. The programme is well organised too which clear steps to take in terms of career progression. You will enter 'Foundation' - graduates and gap year students also enter foundation so there is a lot to be expected of you as may find yourself working with graduates with a lot more knowledge than you but you are (in the company's eyes) the same stage career-wise.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Training is done internally, you can request to go on training courses but you will need approval from your project and also need approval for funding if there are costs associated.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
You are assigned a manager and a buddy who you can talk to which is good as you can come to them with any queries you have. However if you have to travel/move away you are very much expected to be independent and mobile - I had little support trying to find and understand the 'finding and renting a house process' Not being able to drive is doable, but makes life many times harder as you rely on public transport to get you to places - which comes out of your pocket initially but luckily expenses cover it, allowing for a few weeks for them to be processed.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Living and travel costs are covered very well by the expenses system once you join and the extremely competitive base salary apprentices get to start with. Salaries are also meant to rise for apprentices biannually but it depends on how the business is doing. In terms of location unfortunately IBM is largely biased towards the south of England, as the majority of their offices are based there. That being said there are locations such as Warwick and Greenock in Scotland plus some client sites too further north. But be prepared to move away from home and live in hotels for a while unless you are lucky to live near a site which is commutable.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
I think there are the Corporate Games every year which IBM is part of There are many internal communities too which you can become a part of. If you work at a client site or an IBM site there will be social events put on like xmas parties etc - standard stuff really
9. Would you recommend IBM to a friend?
Opportunity for career progression The challenge of becoming largely independent at a young age Fantastic salary-wise for someone without a university education but with the drive and hunger to succeed The perks of being part of a global company whose work truly does change the world
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to IBM?
Applications may take time - I applied in Summer and started in early Spring the following year. Make sure you really try to sell yourself when you are writing your application - you need to stand out (only 5% are successful) - be proud of your achievements and exam results etc. Do your research - make sure you know the company ethos, main message, interesting and relevant examples of their work and key figures in the corporation (CEO etc) to prepare for the interview. There are also assessments that take place online and in person assessment centres which take place at IBM locations as part of the application process. Onboarding may also take time once you start but it depends where you go, and what you are assigned to do - whether you work at an IBM location or at a client site location.
I wish I had done business at school (GCSE/or A Level) so if you are thinking of applying to IBM or a scheme run by a multinational corporation I recommend that you have some knowledge of how a business works as I didn't know much about that area which made it kind of hard to understand some of things talked about on the training courses and generally in IBM commmunications. Overall think of IBM's apprenticeship scheme like a full time job in a great company which does many things to help the world succeed in business and technology, with opportunities to 'earn and learn' - it's a great starting step for someone looking to start their career.
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