I really enjoyed working at IBM during my placement year. My team was incredible, the culture within the company was more than welcoming and I learned many new things. I actually came from a non-technical background but was self learning technology. Both my manager's and my coworkers showed trust on my willingness to learn and supported me along the way. It was the most rewarding experience working at IBM for my placement and now I am already applying back, aiming for a career in Cyber Security.
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My team supported me from the beginning of my placement. They helped me and guided me through training, as well supported me whenever I was facing issues. They always took my questions and concerns seriously and offered help. After completing my training, I became more confident in my role. I was always respected and valued during discussions, brainstorming sessions and when troubleshooting issues. My coworkers valued me and also trusted me to assist them when facing problems I could resolve.
During my placement, I had two managers. My Task Manager (TM) and my Early Professional's Manager (EPM). My TM would monitor my performance on my role and discuss with me my progress when it comes to performance and results. We held monthly meetings to discuss my progress but I felt confident discussing with them at any point of my placements whenever I had concerns or questions. They were very supportive of my work and encouraged my learning and involvement in events outside my task job. My EPM and I had meetings around every 3 months but also discussed whenever I reached out to them. They supported me with any issues I was facing and promoted me to get involved in events and projects other that my daily work. Both of my managers were there as points of contact, support and guidance throughout the year, something I am extremely pleased about. My EPM also introduced me to an IBMer who became my mentor. My mentor gave me a great insight of the department I want to join and provided advice on how to train to reach my goals.
My daily tasks involved communicating with clients on a frequent basis to resolve complex technical issues. Some days were extremely busy and others were less. It really varied from a week to another. The role was intense and there was lots of work, something I was looking for in a placement instead of having nothing to do. There was also flexibility and I could work different hours when needed. My manager always allowed me to join events and projects even when clashing with my task job, as they trusted that I would work flexible hours and get the work done. Overall, I would say there was a balance of busy and less-busy periods
I was given a lot of responsibility during my placement. After I completed my training, I was treated like a normal employee. I took on client cases like everyone else, and had additional responsibilities to contribute to the team. I was also involved in many projects outside of my main role, where I had very active roles. Overall, I was trusted and had responsibilities like any regular IBMer. This made me feel more confident, valued and respected.
During my placement I picked up technical skills I had never had the chance to learn previously. I came from a non-technical background, with a drive to learn and pick up technical skills. Working on a data security software, taught me how to use techical tools and improved my troubleshooting, analysing and problem-solving skills. I also worked with the team every day, on my task job and on side projects, learning all about team work and improvind as a speaker and a listener. There are so many resources provided to us for free. From books, to online training and live training. I made use of all these resources and my knowledge rapidly grew. As a result, I am heading back to my university, being more focused, skilled and having picked up many different techniques and tools.
My team made the atmosphere in the office very pleasant. There were always "water-cooler" talks and joyful discussions. In general, everyone got to know each other and there was good chemistry, which was felt throughout. Unfortunately, not many people came in the office, nevertheless I was still really happy that my team was there every day.
The work placement was greatly organised. The monthly discussions with my task manager and the evalutations every three months with my early professional's manager, really helped me evaluate my growth points, learning points, experiences and what I needed to improve on. There was a plan and set goals for what I had to do for my task job, but there was also a lot of flexibility to take initiative and be independent, which I highly appreciated.
As previously mentioned, the resources supplied by IBM are inumerable and extremely valuable. I had access to free training ranging from books, to online and live courses. I was also able to join multiple evenvts focused on learning. As a highlight, I managed to get certified on the software I supported; the exam I took was completely funded by IBM.
Future employment prospects within IBM are very appealing. They offer great support to graduates, a good salary, two managers and mentors. From what I've learned by discussing with other graduates, your initial role is really flexible and you have the opportunity to work on differnent projects and/or roles until. you discover what is right for you.
There was not much going on in my base location as there are not many placement students around here. Nevertheless, we did organise some socials for special occassions. During the year I attended many events where I networked with fellow interns and IBMers in general. I believe there is a good social scene with fellow students and colleagues as long as you are involved with projects, teams yourself.
I lived close to IBM's office in Bedfont Lakes. Cost of living was moderate for London prices but my rent was really low as I found a very affordable place using SpareRoom. Also, commute to the workplace was free as there was a free shuttle from my home area to the office. Some days I would commute to the central IBM office in Southbank, were prices are more expensive, but also there are lots of discounts for IBMers.
There was no nightlife at all where I lived, close to the Bedfont lakes office, but it was also not something I was looking out for. There were more nightlife opportunities close to the central office, which I joined on multiple occassions and really enjoyed. Generally, there are opportunities to enjoy nightlife but if you are looking for that, then I recommend working in more central locations.
Outside of work, I was able to go running four times a week, spend my weekends in Central London, interact and socialise with other interns, meet up with colleagues and friends, while still having time for personal learning and entertainment. There is great opportunity to join teams working on volunteering projects and other projects in general outside of work.