I provided administrative support and coordination to the HR Partners in the form of people analytics and reporting on areas such as workforce metrics (headcount & attrition), performance management, compensation, and diversity & inclusion. This reporting enables the HR Partners and leaders to make strategic decisions about their workforce. Most of my day would include pulling the data from the system and creating the reports for the HR Partners. I also managed specific projects and HR processes and involving the HR Partner team as and when required.
Yes, I've definitely improved on my Excel skills and would now consider myself to be at an Intermediate-Expert level. This is due to having to use it nearly every day, and having a good handover period with the previous intern. I have also had the opportunity to re-learn how to code in Python, build a chatbot, and learn more hybrid cloud through IBM's internal training platform. I have also improved on my soft skills, such as resilience, communication and confidence.
Loads. A lot of the reports that I did were extremely crucial to the team and to the business unit, as my reports gave the HR Partners a full outlook on their workforce. Since I worked with sensitive data, it was extremely important that I was careful with the data, especially with who had access to it. A lot of my work has impacted decisions on the business and the people, which is a huge responsibility. I would say that there were a few times when I was working that I thought to myself 'why do I need to do this?', but after speaking to my team, we were able to discontinue them.
This was a mixed, but mostly negative experience for me. Due to the management structure of the HR Partner Support interns, it seemed like we had 2 managers who were supposed to oversee the work that we did and delegate tasks to us, but this was not the case. One of our managers was extremely busy during the year, so we barely saw them. With my second manager, I would have weekly group catchups with them, but they stopped towards the end of my placement. There was a period that my manager did not contact me for 2 months, and we have barely spoken since April. We also have 'Foundation Managers', who are there to support our personal development during my placement. As a cohort, we would have weekly calls, where we would talk about general affairs or present on a topic, but I never had any 1-1 catchups with my manager - just for my reviews. I had struggled to work with the other intern in my team, who often did not communicate with me and did not understand the tasks fully. I had raised this issue to both of my managers twice, but nothing came out of it. There were several instances where I felt extremely isolated, and thought that no one wanted to support me. Luckily, I had made a strong network with other HR interns, and apprentices, who I was able to rely on for moral support.
The Foundation team definitely tried to make the most of working from home. There were weekly coffee mornings that interns could go to and catch up with everyone. There is also many communities who work towards creating a safe and comfortable environment for IBMers, e.g. Connecting Women, Foundation BAME. It was very easy to get involved in these communities and make an impact on the wider industry. It was also very easy for us to meet other interns, apprentices and futures. Through our Foundation cohorts and communities, it was easy to meet new people, and have casual Webex calls to switch off and disconnect. I do believe that IBM can do better when it comes to their diversity initiatives. While there are many efforts to improve gender diversity, it seems that racial equity has been left behind and is not the focus of efforts. Also, a lot of these initiatives and 'want for change' is at the grassroots, rather than from senior leadership, why is why I don't think much progress is being made.
A mix. Despite everything, it has been an insightful experience into what it's like to work in HR and to work in a corporate setting. I've also learnt a lot about the areas of HR I enjoy the most, and have more of an understanding of what I would like to do after university. Working from home means that my expectations of what the full 'placement experience' haven't been met, but IBM have definitely accommodated to the change of environment well.
Ensure that you have a strong understanding of IBM's values and ethos, and stay updated with any new regarding IBM. Stay calm and focused in the assessment centre, and make sure you are bringing your full and authentic self. Also make sure that you align with the company values and ethos before applying. It's super important to have passion for the work that IBM are doing, and make sure you show that passion
Placement Year (10 Months+)
7th July 2021