I thoroughly enjoyed working my placement at IBM; I was always kept busy and there weren't many days without much to do. This meant I could make the most out of my placement and pick up the skills I was hoping to. The workload was flexible and allowed for you to work as hard as you could, able to push yourself when desired, and to take breaks when needed. There is a pleasant atmosphere in the office and it's an enjoyable place to be.
The Colleagues both in the department and in the various projects were very accommodating and understanding; I appreciated that after some time to initially integrate, I was treated as one of the team, equal in workload and involvement, which I'd much prefer to being coddled. There were several Team socials throughout the year, and the department as a whole felt more like a Family than a team, with realistic expectations and pushing you to reach your potential.
I was fully supported by both my Task Manager and Early Professional Manager; if I ever had any issues, there was no hesitation, and it would be resolved swiftly. I didn't feel like they were my only two options however; I felt just as comfortable talking to my department lead or any other EPMs. They are all extremely sympathetic and understanding, and place your well being above all else. They would make sure you felt included in the team and there is nothing more I could ask for.
This would vary from day to day, which is understandable considering the role itself. On weeks where there were projects, life would be much busier than when off a project. That being said, how busy you are ultimately comes down to you, and how much effort you'd like to put in, as there's always badges and other learning to be done, you can keep yourself busy picking up new skills or branching into new areas.
I felt I was given a good amount of responsibility in projects; whilst I wasn't of course a project lead, I'd have similar levels of work and contributions to other colleagues. It felt that you were a key part of the team rather than someone dispensable, and I would be included in any appropriate team communications and calls. You wouldn't be able to tell apart a placement student and full time entry employee from their responsibility.
As someone pursuing a Computer Science oriented degree, the training and skills developed are going to be essential for this. I have picked up a new language, JSX React, which I will no doubt use again, not only in my degree but also later when I continue with Front End work. Beyond technical skills, the social skills and time management ability will be invaluable at University, irrespective of what degree you choose to pursue post placement.
At the beginning of the placement, the office appears very new and futuristic. After a few months, this does wear off a bit, but regardless, with all the events going on, the office is constantly being redecorated or there is something going on which spices things up. With the constant influx of new placement students, there is always something fresh happening, and the canteen has weekly themes which change, and there are seasonal changes around the office.
The flow of the placement is very organic, with regular meetings with your EPM to ensure you are afloat and on top of things. The organisation is laid out from the start, with periodic reviews, but the work you do between these is dependent on project work so will come and go. This mimics the real working life, and the reviews are also something full time employees would be subject to, so the work comes across as both organised and realistic.
I was encouraged to attend as many events and workshops as possible, provided I could get my work done in parallel to this. Time was often made for me to further my personal training and development, given guidance on what badges and training to do. If I ever had any worries or questions, I would have limitless people and resources to refer to. There were frameworks in place to ensure full-time employees get enough personal training annually, and we are included in this.
Working from home
Through the Placement scheme, your chances of readmission is increased, and after working there for a year, you have a greater understanding of why you'd want to return, and what life will be like. There is complete transparency on how the graduate scheme operates, and you can speak to current grads to see how they find the course, and to see what sort of roles are available; you can see what you like and make a judgement from there on whether you'd want to go back.
There is little distinction between Gap Year and University Placement students, and even between placement students and new hires; due to the similar workloads and jobs, it'd be difficult to tell without asking. The breaking down of barriers means you can socialise with a whole array of different people; there are other social hotspots like the pub, table-tennis and football table, where you can socialise with people of varying seniority and departments who you might otherwise have not met.
I was living at home during this placement, as I had chosen a base location close to my home. This reduced the daily cost by a large factor, as London living prices are not insignificant by any means. Socialising costs could be somewhat significant too, as the pub would charge £5 a pint, including the work discount, and these could soon add up. That being said, there is lots you can do without drinking, like the table tennis and football table in the office, which is free of course.
London is known for its vibrant nightlife, though I wouldn't often be out during the night, so I couldn't contribute to this much.
There are events outside of your department weekly, advertised all over the office; the only limiting factor is the time you have to sign up to all of these!
Placement Year (10 Months+)
15th July 2020