Software developer at IBM

Start Date:
South West
Programme Type:
Gap Year Programme
£15,000 annually
Review Date:
May 2018

Connect with IBM

Review Score

8.8 /10

1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:


Software developer and problem solver.

Around 80% of my time is spent doing full-stack web development and managing our team's cloud infrastructure.

Along with that, I spend maybe 15% of my time maintaining / fixing / upgrading complex macros in Excel spreadsheets.

The remaining 5% goes towards researching various tools and technologies for the team, or helping teammates solve problems (often code-related).

I've been given a surprising amount of responsibility: leading end-to-end development of an internal web application (which has been a lot of fun); managing security and deployment of another internal tool; and leading front-end development for another internal web app.

2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?


Many. The majority of what I spend my time doing at work is very similar to what I'd be doing at home: building software and improving my development skills. So work is generally quite fun.

Be prepared to learn a lot. I had very little experience developing web apps. But now, JavaScript feels like my native programming language and full-stack web development is a breeze. My programming skills have advanced far more than I'd expected (remember: Stack Overflow is your friend!).

I'm given a lot of autonomy over time mamagement, so I'm able to spend time researching new technologies and then using them in projects.

Beyond technical skills, working here has enhanced my leadership skills, primarily because I was invited to go on a valuable 2-day external leadership course. Very cool. Never would have had the opportunity to do it if I hadn't gotten this placement and asked about leadership training. There's so much training available - be sure to make use of it.

3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?


Work: I enjoy the programming and problem solving a lot; I don't usually enjoy the Excel stuff (VBA is an awful language) Team: collaborative, talkative (can sometimes be a little distracting), helpful

Lots of autonomy. Opportunity to work from home once a week. Relatively flexible work hours. But work can be very stressful (but 80% of this is probably self-induced).

The first 3 months were a solid 10/10 for enjoyment. Then it dropped to a 6/10 for a few months. This month it went up to 7/10 and now it's an 8/10.

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4. How valued do you feel by IBM?


In almost every respect, you're not treated like 'just an intern' - you're treated as an employee who's given real responsibilities and given real work to do. Within the projects I do, I get a lot of feedback and feel valued. Having the opportunity to attend the 2-day leadership course certainly made me feel valued.

5. How well organised/structured is your programme?


My induction was 2 days long and covered a lot of general content. After that, I moved into my role.

For my role, there wasn't any training - I was asked to build a project and then figure out whatever route I want to take to build it: perfect. It gave me a lot of opportunity to learn and research different options.

There are regular reviews - 3, 6, 9, and 12 months into the programme and a journal to keep track of all the work you've done. I strongly recommend recording a bullet-pointed journal of what you've done each week. Otherwise, time blurs past very easily and you'll soon forget a lot of what you've done.

There are always multiple people available to ask if you need help - it's just a matter of whether you choose to utilise those resources.

6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?


This programme doesn't involve a 'training provider' so this doesn't apply.

6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?


My manager clearly as an interest in each of us as people - they don't just care about the work you do for them or whether you want to continue working at IBM in the future. When you have difficulties or big things going on outside of work, they're very flexible and supportive in every way they can. Again, there's so much support available - you've just got to take the initiative to make use of it.

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7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?


From where I'm based, I have to live away from home. So after paying for rent, bills, and food, there isn't a huge amount left to save, which is a bit unfortunate. But honestly, if you're only doing the placement for the pay, then you're missing out on the real value of it.

8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?


Social events really depend on your location. In this regard, London has by far the most opportunities outside of work. However, there is a company event maybe once a month where I'm based.

The location where I'm based seemed pretty lacklustre initially, but there's actually more here than I'd realised. It's just a matter of putting in the effort to explore what's available. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, gyms, etc.

9. Would you recommend IBM to a friend?


9b. Why?

I've learned far more this year than I'd ever expected - certainly a lot more than at school (or even what I would have in 1 year at uni too, judging from what my friends attending uni have said).

10/10 would recommend.

Don't be afraid to move away from home for the placement; that was easily the best decision I made. Renting with other interns was a fantastic idea (though things might be a little challenging for the first couple months while you all get used to each others' living habits). It's a great way to learn how to live independently.

10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to IBM?

The IPAT is hard. It seems to get harder and harder if you're scoring well on it, so don't be discouraged if it seems like you bombed it (you probably did fine!). With both the IPAT and the assessment days, do a bit of research beforehand so you're well prepared (but don't go crazy with it!).

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