Over the year I was able to gain a lot of industry skills that I never was exposed to at university, from interacting with the design to create good UI's, to meeting critical deadlines, to even being able to interact with clients of the product to gain an understanding of what they require from the product in order to get the best customer satisfaction. Being based in London was cool as well, was able to interact with a lot of people with varying roles in the company. Also got the chance to go out for socials after office hours.
I felt very valued by my colleagues during my placement year. In the beginning, I was given small tasks to work on that allowed me to gain the skills required for the role. After months of being in the role, I was being trusted to develop core functionality for the product that was integral for upcoming releases. The company is really good in that sense because after you have been able to upskill for the internship, you are treated like a regular employee.
At the beginning of the placement year, I had no experience in the programming language that the product was being coded in. My peers not only let me know about useful tools that would help me learn, but they were always on hand whenever I was stuck in order to help out. The management does not try and spoon feed you through every issue on your job which is good because it gives you the room to grow and actually learn things on your own.
Most days there was work to do which meant that you actually had things to do and were able to build upon your skills throughout the year. There were times during the year where work may be slow due to being blocked by other teams within the product. When this does happen there are learning courses available internally that can be worked on whenever. Nearing to time of the release of the product, work did become chaotic and some long hours had to be done but this is not something just exclusive to IBM.
Initially, I worked on simple tasks such but as I showed myself to be a reliable member of the team, my tasks expanded and I was able to work on more core features. From this, I was able to improve my technical, teamwork, and time management skills, due to having to collaborate with various designers, customers, and developers, and then produce content by given deadlines. Going on from this, I was then able to contribute to two software releases for the product whilst at my time there.
The learning I have done at IBM is not just something that can only be related to the company but I believe it will help me in the long run. The React framework that I learned is what I am planning to use for my final year project so without this placement year, I do not believe I would have had the confidence to use it and as a result, would have most likely chosen another final year project which wouldn’t interest me as much as the one I have selected. Furthermore, my approach to completing work has changed and I trust that this will help me complete my university work in final to greater standard whilst adhering to deadlines.
The atmosphere in the office was good. Everyone in the office was very accommodating, and there were various things that could be done in the office at lunches and tea breaks. Summer and Christmas office socials were good ways to get to know people in the office that you do not directly work with. The office atmosphere was never dull and there were always opportunities within my team where if you wanted to work at home a 1 or 2 days a week, it was fine.
The placement year at IBM has been going on for many years and as a result, it is set up well to accommodate a large cohort of students. Interns are assigned a manager outside of their immediate manager in their role, this means they have someone to go to whenever they need guidance about their placement year as a whole as opposed to guidance about their direct role. As an intern you are placed in different teams to work in over the year; some teams (like mine) are very good at accommodating interns, others are not as set up for interns.
In terms of personal training and development, I would say the company's stance was very positive. My team gave me sufficient learning materials that would help me develop my technical skills and teammates gave me opportunities to present to senior directors of the product in order to boost my presentation and communication skills. Outside my core role, IBM offers all workers free learning courses to pick up skills that they are interested in and certificates of completion could even be shared on social media platforms.
Working from home
After completion of the placement year, successful interns with positive feedback from colleagues are given the chance to apply back for graduate roles. If interns choose to apply back as grads, they are still required to partake in interviews and in some cases, even have to participate in assessment centers with external graduate role applicants. Some placement schemes at other companies offer graduate roles immediately after successful years so having to still participate in interview processes can seem slightly disheartening.
The social scene amongst fellow interns was very positive. At the start of the year, onboarding activities allowed us to get closer together and meant that when we all settled into our various roles, we still remained close. IBM also helped interns from other offices around the country stayed connected and on several occasions throughout the year, I was able to meet up with interns in different offices at social events that I was able to attend.
I was able to reduce cost of living drastically by living at home, others are not able to have this luxury, unfortunately.
I worked from home in London, so I was already accustomed to the nightlife, I may be biased.
Outside my core role, there were various opportunities about that I could get involved with. IBM encourages you to 'Giveback' by partaking in a various range of activities. For me, this included being able to help out at prestigious events such as the Think London Summit. Furthermore, I was also able to work with different IBMers who had no relation to the work that I was doing in my core role. I was able to attend and participate in different social groups and was even encouraged to.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
Computer and Systems Engineering, Computer Science
6th July 2020