I am a member of the EMEA Interface Management squad in the CIO organisation. My primary role is as a Business Analyst, working with IBM internal customers to translate their business requirements into IT solutions using finance middleware. I also act as the Iteration Manager for our squad, meaning I am responsible for organising and tracking the work the team has committed to complete, and facilitating team planning, retrospective, and stand-up meetings to support this.
My placement year with IBM has been a very enjoyable experience, and one that I would certainly recommend. Over the course of the year I have been given ample opportunity to develop both personally and professionally, and I have built many soft and technical skills that will prove fruitful in my future career.
From day one I have felt very valued by my colleagues, and treated as a true member of the team, not just 'the intern'. My squad members value my input in meetings and discussions just as much as anybody else, and very quickly I felt at home in the team.
I had regular meetings 1-to-1 with my task manager to discuss my progress, and any issues I might have, which I found very helpful. I also had regular checkpoints reviews with my early professional manager (EPM) who aided me in setting goals for myself, as well as my career development.
Some day I would be very busy, and other days I wouldn't be that busy. However, I found that if you demonstrate to your team your eagerness to take on new work, you will create opportunities for yourself. On balance, I would say I had a good control on how busy my schedule is.
From very early on during my placement year, I was given lots of responsibility, whether that be in hosting meetings, or taking on analysis, or technical changes in our finance middleware application. I felt I was able to take on more and more responsibility at a pace that I was comfortable with.
During my placement I have been given plenty of opportunity to do education and develop my skills. IBM operates a "THINK40" scheme, which means employees must partake in 40 hours of education each year. In doing this education I've earned several digital badges which I can display on my LinkedIn profile for subjects such as blockchain and AI. Additionally, I have developed my communication, teamwork and technical skills (such as SQL) hugely, and widened by business acumen which will no doubt assist me at my remaining year at university and beyond.
The atmosphere in the office is fairly lively, and there are a couple collaborative spaces with booths and desks to work at. It is an open plan office set-up, and is much like how I imagined an office environment to be like before I started the job. All in all, the atmosphere is just fine.
The overall work placement was very well organised. The initial induction into the company was well run, and helped give us the best start possible. Additionally, there was a strong support system, and focus on goals to achieve during the placement which really helped to provide a sense of direction over the year.
The personal training and development at IBM over the course of my placement was very good. We were very much encouraged to undergo as much education and training as we could. Personally I completed a number of 'digital badges' which accredited me in a number of fields such as AI or Agile. I was also involved in education days, such as an Accounting training day which was very useful.
The future employment prospects within IBM are very appealing. On writing this review, IBM has won the TargetJobs Graduate Employer of the Year award for two years running. The graduate scheme is well regarded, and over the course of the placement the foundation team do all they can to help interns prepare for applying for it.
Working at the Portsmouth location, there were fewer interns than at London. However even so, the social scene was still strong. All ~25 of us got along very well, and we would all eat lunch together, and regularly go out together on the weekends. The nightlife in Portsmouth isn't amazing, however there are a couple clubs we would go to occasionally, and plenty of pubs.
I would say that the cost of living was generally quite low in Portsmouth, particularly compared to those living in London I'm sure. My housemates and I managed to find a nice 4 bedroom house in the Southsea area, at a very reasonable rent. In terms of socialising, drinks varied a fair bit on where you went, but overall were quite affordable.
The nightlife in Portsmouth isn't too bad, there are a few big clubs like Pryzm and Astoria that we would go to occasionally. Portsmouth also boasts the most number of pubs per square mile in the country, which is a great selling point. We would often spend Friday nights on Albert Road in Southsea moving from pub to pub.
There were lots of opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work. IBM is very big on encouraging 'giveback', where employees take on volunteering to help give back to the local community. I personally was involved in a Robot Day at a local school, where I taught children how to build and code their own Robots. I also volunteered as a Big Interview Day, where I interviewed year 10 students, and gave them feedback on their CVs. These experiences are very rewarding, and I'd very much recommend them!