Business Controls and Sourcing Buyer Support at IBM

Top Employer
Placement Year (10 Months+)
Portsmouth South East
Review Date
£14,000 - £15,999
Business Analytics Business Management Environmental Information Technology

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The Role



The Role

Role Description

To work within the Procurement department, primarily supporting the UKI & Nordics Procurement Business Controls & Operations team.

To gain practical business skills and experience in the field of procurement and contracts by performance of delegated work responsibilities and projects assigned to the Intern and/or assist existing buyers on active contract activity.

1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?

loved my placement at IBM from start to finish. I worked in Procurement – an area which I did not have much knowledge of before, however I fitted in well. I was given the opportunity to get involved in so many different projects and tasks which made my year exciting. Of course there were hard days and times where things got a bit stressful, however the positive days definitely outweigh those times! I am sad to be leaving IBM and am grateful for all the experience I have gained throughout the year!


2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?

I have always felt valued by my colleagues at IBM. From day 1 I have been given great responsibility and this has only increased as I’ve progressed throughout my year. Often the impression people have of internships is that you will be making the tea, or doing the printing, but in my experience at IBM, this couldn’t be further from the truth.


3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?

Unfortunately, I was not based in the same office as my manager throughout my time at IBM, which is unusual as most interns are. However, if I ever needed to ask a question or was having an issue, my manager was always available and willing to help via the phone or on the IBM instant messaging chat. We would also have regular one-to-one meetings to keep in touch and talk about any issues that arose.


4. How busy were you on a daily basis?

At the beginning of my placement I wasn’t overly busy. I had weekly/monthly/quarterly tasks that I needed to complete, however I had a fair amount of free time. This meant I had the opportunity to reach out to some of our buyers and ask if I could get involved in any of their projects. I was lucky enough to get myself involved a number of projects and attended many supplier meetings with a number of healthcare providers. As my year progressed I was handed more responsibility and more tasks. This increased my work load a substantial amount and for the last 8 months of my placement I was very busy on a daily basis – always having something else to do!


5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?

The responsibility I was given throughout my placement was rather large. Working in Procurement, half of the time you are handling clients and the other half of the time you are handling suppliers. I was trusted to speak to our suppliers from very early stages on behalf of IBM, when assisting different buyers in projects. Part of my role was to handle the onboarding of new suppliers to IBM systems for the UK and Ireland. This was a really important role and one that I was trusted to carry out.


6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?

I have become very organised and methodical since becoming an intern which is a skill I will definitely utilise when returning to university. My communication skills have also improved, through the need to talk to people regularly on the phone and also through writing professional emails. My ability to use tools such as excel have dramatically improved which will also be useful not only at university but in future jobs to come.


The Organisation

7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?

The office in Portsmouth was fairly quiet. A lot of people within IBM tend to work from home, meaning that the office isn’t always busy. There are regular people who are always in the office, however it is quite a small team who sit together. Although quiet, the people I work with are great and we always have fun whilst at work. We try to organise a breakfast get together every couple of weeks on a Friday which is nice. However, at the Portsmouth site there are multiple offices and each office at each site will be different so bear this in mind.


8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?

My whole placement was very well organised. When you join IBM you will enter a team/department and be given a task manager. You will also be issued an early professionals manager (EPM) who will be there to support the personal development side of your placement. You will be required to have a 3,6,9 and 12 month review with your EPM to ensure you are on track to meet the goals and targets previously set out. When joining IBM you will also get a good handover from the intern before you.


9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?

There is a tool at IBM called Your Learning which gives IBMers the opportunity to learn about any topic they want to. There are lots of different learning methods, some are videos and others are online web pages. You are also able to earn badges through the tool when you become an expert in certain areas. These badges are externally recognised, and you can put them on your Linkedin profile!


10. What were the perks on your work placement?

  • Flexi Time
  • National Travel
  • International Travel
  • Financial Bonus
  • Company Parties/Events
  • Staff Sales/Staff Shop
  • Working from home

11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?

There is great opportunity to apply back to IBM as a graduate. There is a separate application form for interns that work for IBM already, which allows you to bypass many of the early stages of the application process. There are many graduate roles on offer across many different business areas with opportunity for promotions. IBM also won the graduate employer of the year award 2019!



12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?

Throughout my whole year on placement I had a good social life! As a team, we regularly went out for breakfast together on a Friday morning – I think we managed to cover every café in the area! At work all the interns sat together and ate lunch in the canteen around one big table. I also lived in a house with other IBM interns which made socialising outside of work hours easy. We regularly went out together on Friday nights and often made plans for the weekend!


13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?

I found living in Portsmouth to be fairly reasonably priced. I went to University in Southampton and the housing and socialising costs were very similar across the two. There are a range of supermarkets close by such as Aldi, Asda and Sainsburys which means you can shop at a good price! At the pub a pint is generally £3/4 and there are always deals on food! Gunwharf is the main shopping centre in Portsmouth, although it is a little more on the pricey side.


14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?

I worked in Portsmouth in the IBM North Harbour office. Rumour has it Portsmouth has the most pubs per square mile than any other city in the UK – so there is always somewhere to have a drink after work or over the weekend! There are a few nightclubs as well, the infamous Astoria (our personal favourite) which is always queued round the block on a Friday night!


15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?

IBM very much encourage interns to get themselves involved in giveback opportunities. Giveback can be completed in many forms, I helped out at assessment centers for future interns, and also went into a local primary school to help them build robots! There were also many social events such as the Christmas boat party which was organised by one of our fellow interns!