1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I'm a software security consultant, so I install, configure and maintain IBM Security Access Manager for clients. I'm part of a small team in the UK, although we occasionally do work across Europe. As we're consultants, the work does change, I find myself sent all over the place. Recently we all went to rome as part of a training course.
Depending on the project I'm consulting on depends on what I do daily, at the moment I'm in warwick 4/5 days a week, and down in Hursley 1. My responsibilities at the moment include configuring and managing IBM Security Access Manager, which controls who access what, for 1.4 million users for the NHS. It's a fantastic role that's constantly changing and sending me to new places.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Yes! I've been trained from the ground up on IBM Security Access Manager, as well as relating software. I've improved my abilities on more general aspects of System Administration too,
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I love the traveling most of the time. It's an experience that lets me explore places I've never been to before and do what I love when I get there, so it's hard to fault it. The work can be long and hard at times, but that's how you learn
4. How valued do you feel by IBM?
Whilst individually it's hard to feel too special from IBM as a whole due to it's sheer size, the Foundation division of IBM that manages apprentices, interns and graduates makes each apprentice feel important, from the fact that many of the managers know everyone well, to the monthly catch up calls, the division does a good job of keeping everyone in the loop. I feel they do an amazing job of making apprentices feel important considering the size of the company
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The induction lasts 2 weeks for apprentices, and is a residential course. It promotes teamwork and the friends you form in the small group stay with you through the program. The 7 other apprentices in my induction and I stay in contact and constantly talk on facebook, which is a great thing.
The studying for each roll falls down to individual teams, but there are multiple courses provided by foundation that everyone attends, with the same group as induction; these are really useful.
Because of the nature of my job role, task delegation isn't always up to IBM, however I feel the work given is enough to push you a good distance out of your comfort zone. Whilst this is a little scary at times, the amount learned is loads for the time taken.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The training providers in the foundation section are immeasurably useful, and form a solid fallback in case the work in your job roll is too much. Job-specific training varies per roll, but I found for me, there's lots of learning through doing, and this is much more effective then learning from a powerpoint or lecture.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
The company as a whole, whether it's my team or Foundation (IBM's apprenticeship department) provide all the support I'd need, they are very good at reminding you that they're there for you, and nobody expects you to join knowing how to do your job.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
I currently live with my dad weekdays, which is 20 mins from my base location. I pay him rent but currently I'm working in Warwick, 2.5 hours away by train Monday to Thursday, so I travel up Mondays and stay in a hotel for most of the week. IBM pay all my travel and hotel expenses, and I have a company credit card to put it all on, so my total personal expenses are very low.
I think the pay is fantastic for apprenticeships, my girlfriend is on minimum wage for apprenticeships, which is absolutely tiny and barely enough to live on when you're at home paying your parents rent. IBM pay an extremely good amount, that increases by £2000 every 6 months on average. Would rate 11 if possible.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
IBM promote their 'giveback' scheme, where they'll often pay expenses for you to do events outside your job role, such as helping at events, going to schools for talks, or helping with assessment days for new apprentices or graduates.
They are open to new ideas if you approach the right people and will often pay you to run an event if you approach them. The opportunities to help with events outside work are fantastic.
9a. Would you recommend IBM to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
Because the pay is good, the experience is better, and the opportunity to be paid a good amount to gain knowledge and experience at the same time is immeasurable. I would recommend it to anyone considering working in the technology industry.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to IBM? *
Be yourself. The interviewers will see through any attempt to fake a personality and so the best option is to be yourself, admit any imperfections and be honest as to who you are and why you want the job. Most of all, be realistic about what you have achieved and what you're capable of. They get hundreds of post A-Level students, they're not expecting geniuses nor are they looking for them, they want students because they believe in them, don't go making up lies for the interview, if you pass the application with them, you'll only flounder when you get to your job roll. Oh, and make sure you know what IBM stands for.
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