Overall, I really enjoyed the experience at IBM. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet so many skilled individuals who were specialized and passionate about what they do. There were great social opportunities across the board with Christmas Party, regular work events etc... However, exposure to this could depend a lot of where you are based to work with London having a major early professionals team. You can always find something to do, whether that is work, social or community focused.
Overall, I felt like I was valued as an Early Professional in one of IBM's many Early Professional Schemes and also by my manager. IBM really tries to enforce this positive culture with valuing colleagues by introducing award schemes and feedback opportunities. However, though rarely, I would sometimes feel that I was looked at as intern by a tiny minority of individuals I worked with. I expect this is common in all major organisations and was never a major issue.
I felt that I always had access to support and guidance my managers. My Task Manager (TM) was my main point of contact for day-to-day operations and was always there when I needed support or general guidance about my work, and even further my future prospects. I also had an Early Professionals Manager (EPM) who was in charge of me career development and pastoral commitments. Having this was nice even though you will see and speak to your EPM much less often than your TM.
It would often vary week to week depending on what work was required of me in my role at the time. Overall I was satisfied, however, did go through periods where I wish it was busier. I know many who also were the opposite and wish they were less busy. The amount of work you are involved could depend heavily on what role you get, however, if you network and put yourself out there you will always find opportunities.
Throughout my placement I was very happy with the amount of responsibility that I received - with some of my work having serious implications if I didn't do properly. IBM is very good with giving individuals work that matters, however, as a young professional there will be definitely be limits on responsibility until you can prove you can do something. Overall, I felt like I had a very good amount of responsibility during my placement.
Throughout my year my skills developed immensely through my experiences. Joining a major company, taking on my role and being in an extremely professional environment has been so significant for my growth. In future, I feel like I definitely have the capabilities to bring value to my work, to pick up things faster with more confidence. If you truly jump into the company and culture, IBM placements are the perfect opportunity for personal development and growth.
Offices I worked in had a great atmosphere. My main IBM office was quieter but had a much greater family feeling with everyone knowing everyone due to the small size. This made it a cosy and comfortable place to work. My second office was the opposite with a very large amount of people working in the office. This had a very active feeling towards. Having both of these was great and offered a good contrast and experience.
Overall, I found that from beginning to end the work placement was set up well. The induction set me up for the rest of my year - showing me how to use certain features and making sure I had everything ready to start. The year is broken down into a 3 Month, 6 Month and 12 Month Review in which you can monitor your progress. You work is handed over to you, most commonly, by the individual you are replacing (one negative of this is that your success at the beginning could be dependent on their ability to teach).
IBM offers a great Elearning platform for all staff to have access to online courses and upskill themselves on key and future business topics such as cloud, blockchain, cognitive solutions etc.... This platform also had a range of courses on public speaking and other soft skills and had a range of articles. Often a manager may recommend you do a certain topic to improve your skills in that area. However, this is usually the main form of investment most placement students would get.
Working from home
Future employment prospects within IBM look good - the apprenticeships and graduate schemes they offer cover a very broad set of specialties. Placement students are given first access to these prospects and are not required to complete many of the application stages (such as the assessment centre) as they have previously done so. Also current placement students are able to leverage their networks they have developed throughout their year to back them in this process.
There was a good social scene with the main group of interns I worked with which would involved travelling to Manchester and London very often for food, drink and events. There was also a good social scene on the client site I worked at, with many IBMers going for food and drink on a weekly basis as we were on expenses. Sometimes I felt I was disadvantaged with social experiences being so far away from London but never really had a major impact.
I lived in Preston during my placement year as that was where I was based and work half my time. The area was extremely cheap due to where it was which was great for housing etc... The half of my time was spent in Edinburgh where I was on expenses meaning all my costs were covered. The amount I had to spent in Edinburgh was very comfortable meaning I was never worried that I would go hungry, have to live in low quality accommodation or be prevented from traveling.
I worked in Preston and the night life was okay. Its quite a small town and because of that there wasn't a significant about of clubs, bars and pubs but there was enough to keep me happy and going out. With UCLAN university being close by there were enough young people out to have a good time. All places to go to were quite close together and easily accessible by foot, taxi or a car.
IBM offers a range of social and development based activities that you can get involved with outside of work. This could depend on where you located. Most involve going out food and drink, but there will also be more specifically tailored social events for individuals that want to do something more adventurous. For some activities outside of work, you may need to actively try and find these as they aren't always clearly highlight to all staff.
Placement Year (10 Months+)
21st July 2020