1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My job title is Customer Engineer; I am very technical-based, although I do meet many customers. I can see representatives from companies such as HSBC, BT and ASDA all in one day! It sounds cliché, but no day is the same; different equipment, different clients and different locations make everything a challenge. I have a big bag of tools that I use at each call and are sometimes vital for repair.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have been on a couple of courses already and many more lined up soon. The job develops me on its own; not just technical knowledge, but also problem-solving and how to approach tasks with different frames of mind. The technical and professional courses are very informative, you get out what you put in. External courses are available if you make it clear you are interested. I will be sitting my Comptia Security+ exam early next year, all paid for by IBM so tat I have another bit of knowledge under my belt.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The work is really good, it is however very dependent on demand. The team of engineers I'm with are great, willing to teach me what they can. I can always call on them if I am stuck. The apprentice community is very wide too, you can very easily get in contact with most people. This scheme exceeded my expectations, I did not think that this work would be available for an apprentice, but quite the opposite, the engineers want me trained up so I can be another person to rely on.
4. How valued do you feel by IBM?
My managers are great, task and professional. I have already obtained a manager's choice award as part of internal recognition. I am not just on the sidelines for every job, engineers and team members what me involved in things and value my opinion as a fresh point of view.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The induction was 2 weeks, which was intense but well worth it. After the induction you already feel part of IBM, an IBMer! There are set courses for every apprentice throughout the three years, including level 3 & 4 diplomas. Alongside this there are technical courses for apprentices such as myself. For example, an apprentice in the business side of IBM, they might be funded to complete Prince2 training. I meet with both my task manager and my professional one quite often, I can also send them an email and ask any questions whenever I need to. Task delegation is very efficient in my area of business as there may be as many as one hundred calls for our team of engineers in one day.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
There are an unlimited amount of online learning you can do on IBM's intranet, I use it for mainly technical knowledge on systems. Alongside all the courses, the engineers are very helpful with questions I have. With regards to the attitude of others supporting me, everyone wants to help and to have another engineer on the team.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
IBM is very supportive of helping me decide which career path I want to choose. For example, I want to stay technical and achieve the title of Distinguished Engineer. This is a long way away, but I can set long-term and short-term goals. Everyone on my team is basically a mentor, although one engineer is assigned to me more than the other. They basically check how I'm doing most days, what work I've got lined up and also offer me other opportunities.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
As an apprentice I start out at 15kper annum, this is more than enough for me to live well on and pay off a bit of money I owe. It is open to increase throughout the three years and you can go for a promotion at the end too. Alongside this you get a company phone & laptop. As a field engineer I get a company car too, but this largely depends on your role. I drive to see friends most weekends and I'm saving up to go on holiday too.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are many communities dedicated to this. Outdoor activities, team-building and discount events. IBM already offers discounts at many places, but some communities get deals with certain venues too. I have attended a few careers events to promote the apprenticeship, you can take time out of your work to do this, and you also get internal 'brownie points' for it too.
9a. Would you recommend IBM to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
Because even though it's such a large global company, it does feel like a community. Everyone is first-name-basis, there's respect but not over-formality when it comes to meeting people who are several levels above me.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to IBM? *
Concentrate on yourself as person when trying to sell yourself, rather just your grades. IBM values more than just technical ability, it highly rates enthusiasm for the business. If you find many interests in IBM, IBM will find many interests in you. The application process is quite long compared to other companies, but well worth it if you can stick it out. Assessment days, now this is a big point and something that I saw on my assessment day: IBM is not always looking for a leader in a group, there are different capacities needed in a team and if you had a team of leaders you wouldn't get anywhere. On the day of assessment, you don't have to get everything right, just show how hard you tried and the different ways you went about it.
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