Being based on client site, I was cut off and with little interaction to the community of placement workers based in Southbank. This was something I was not prepared for in undertaking the position, with the expectation I would be Central London based. On top of this, I joined a team of 3 graduates, but within 2 months of starting, the team was reduced to me solely. I therefore assumed lots of responsibility across my year, but the pressure, exposure and accountability was highly stressful particularly at the beginning as an inexperienced student. I was given little support or guidance during this period, and felt extremely overwhelmed at times.
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The best part of my placement was the sense of value my colleagues provided me. Even the most senior executives were constantly reaffirming my capabilities and showing me gratitude for all that I did. Because of this encouragement, I am leaving the placement far more confident in my own abilities and self-assured in the world of work. IBM is definitely a place where hard work and dedication pays off and is recognized. For that reason, I would recommend it as a place to work.
In terms of direct supervision and guidance, I received little training or support. When the team was reduced down to myself only and within my first few months, I was left with no direct manager and largely to my own devices. This was an attribute of the fast-paced and challenging account I was working on, as individuals had little time to spare on training. Having said this, this has not gone unnoticed and IBM have been good at recognizing the amount I've dealt with on my own. There was also perhaps a need for me to speak up more to say when I was struggling.
Equally, in the last few months, the project has been running self-development workshops to support us with our applications and elevator pitches. This has been a great program in guiding my career aspirations.
At the beginning of my placement I was exceptionally busy. I was dealing with the workload of a team previously run by 3 members as well as being a new joiner myself. During this period, I felt very overwhelmed and stretched to my limits.
However once I had gotten to grips with the processes, the workload became more manageable. Equally, greater governance was introduced to the account, which thankfully took away some of my load. The second half of my placement has therefore been much better in terms of balance. I am able to spend time on my own development and online trainings which I have enjoyed.
As mentioned, I became the sole team member and leader of my account function. This leadership role was one previously carried out by a relatively senior member of the project which left me feeling very exposed and accountable.
The benefit, is that I have undertaken a vast range of high-level responsibilities and had fantastic exposure to senior members of IBM and the client team, exceeding all expectations for my placement. This has been invaluable in growing me as an individual.
This year has been invaluable for preparing me for my final year of study and for the world of work beyond. Having worked in the center of a large scale delivery program, I have a much better understanding of delivery and commercial management functions and I have gained a wealth of transferable skills relevant to any future job. I feel much more confident in my own ability and in the value I can bring an organization. Despite the challenges, no role could have equipped me better.
On the specific account I worked on, morale was definitely an issue. In dealing with a difficult client, employees suffered the impacts of changing requirements and high-demands. The atmosphere was one of high-pressure and tension on many days.
During my time however, positive steps were made to combat low morale. I attended a people-driven innovation workshop and a People Champion was selected for the account. Equally, the individual IBM staff were very encouraging towards me and did help to lift the atmosphere on a personal level.
IBM is very well experienced and organized in the logistics of setting up internships. My induction was very well set-up and clear, making it easy to know what was required in my first few months. Across the placement, interns were well-communicated with and on a variety of channels.
One of the USP's of an IBM internship is the EPM system. Each intern has an assigned placement manager, meaning if you are ever unsure, you always have an IBM contact to ask and get in touch with.
IBM invests in all of its employees no matter how junior. The online training facilities mean you are always able to progress your knowledge and development. There is a badge or seminar for everyone and spanning a vast range of areas. This is a key USP for IBM as an employer.
Equally, on my on-site account, Lunch & Learn sessions were held regularly and covering a variety of topics. For the females on the account, weekly personal development sessions were also held to improve our self-confidence.
IBM offer an intern to graduate fast track route. You have an option of applying back upon nearing the end of your placement via an online portal and application form.
Success of your application is largely dependent on how well you performed on your placement year and on the references willing to support your application. You are also repeatedly told not to take a graduate position for granted, as many have made this mistake and submitted a poor application which has not got them through to interview.
In IBM Southbank where London placement workers were based, there was a very good social scene. Placement workers formed good friendships and had regular after work drinks. Being on client site made this more difficult. There was a lack of support for me to get involved in this community, and participation was reliant on my own drive. Events such as the Christmas party did help however, in connecting me to the social aspect.
London is an expensive place and so high cost of living and socializing is to be expected. There were bars near IBM Southbank which did however offer discounted rates. In London, this is always worth having!
There are also cheaper areas than other to live and socialize in. Ultimately, if you're looking for cheap living, then London is not the place to be.
London is renowned for great nightlife and a social buzz and it definitely didn't disappoint in this regard. There is a wealth of clubs worth going to, which vary in cost and event type.
The best part about London is the bar culture. After work drinks are the main times you socialize and for which London is very skilled!
Being on client site, the area I was based had little going on in terms of Nightlife. This was a big drawback, but there was at least still the option of traveling into central London.
IBM offers a great Giveback scheme. This is essentially volunteering outside of your everyday work responsibilities. There are a host of opportunities and initiatives to get involved with, including many outside of work activities.
Though I didn't myself, there are also several sports activities and teams you can get involved with.