IBM Apprenticeship Case Studies

01 December 2015 | Focus | Sponsored Content

IBM Apprentice Case Study – Technical Apprenticeship

Name: Oliver Pope
Education: Barton Peveril College
Studied: Computing
Role: IT Architect

What does your daily routine involve?

08:00:  I like to wake up early and make a proper cup of coffee to start off my day. I’ll read and make breakfast and generally leave the house by about 8.

08:30: Depending on the traffic I’ll get to work around half past 8 and after catching up with email (I work with clients and other IBMers all over the world so it isn’t strange to receive emails at midnight!), I’ll usually do some work on my GiveBack projects (projects outside your normal role that nonetheless benefit yourself and IBM).  Currently I’m working on: an innovation proposal for a very large client, developing an analytics tool for IBM hiring personnel, administering the IBM Apprentice blog and lastly, a project to improve the IBM Apprenticeship scheme as a whole and establish some best practices. 

09:30-12:00: At around half past nine I kick off my work for the day. I am an Architect which means I am involved in the high levels of projects: assisting in the direction of new proposals, finding areas for innovation in, or improvement of, an existing solution, and ensuring that the information (documentation) we have for the account is up to date and accurate (documentation may sound boring, but when you deal with Enterprise level solutions that may span many countries or even continents, it is the be all and end all!).  I will attend or host multiple meetings throughout the day, either over the phone or in person and will spend the rest of my time updating or creating the already mentioned documentation, logging into client environments and actually performing technical work/changes or thinking (there are two white boards in my office that get a really good use each day!). 

12:00-12:45: I’ll grab some lunch with a colleague (a graduate who is also an Architect) and then go for a walk around the campus (IBM Hursley always surprises me with new paths or gardens I haven’t seen before!)

12:45-18:00: I will usually be continuing what I was working on in the morning, or if I managed to complete that before lunch, I’ll move onto one of the other accounts I work on.

16:00: coffee no.3 (usually!)

18:00: shut down the laptop, leave the office.  I’ll occasionally check my phone just in case an important email or call has come through but usually I’m pretty safe to just relax and plough on through Breaking Bad. 

Could you describe the social environment in your work place? Do you have much contact with other levels of workers or mainly your peers?

I work in my own office during the day, but I will be pretty regularly in face-to-face meetings with other Architects (most of whom are full time professionals – my manager, whom I work with pretty regularly, is also the head of all the Architects in UK&I!) but a graduate who is also an Architect works in the office next to mine so we pretty regularly meet up to discuss any issues that have come up.

What’s the best part of your working day?

Working directly with the clients is always really rewarding.  It helps you to develop as a person if you need to deal with difficult situations, and work to give the best possible result to the client.  People expect big things of IBM and when you deliver, it is really satisfying.

… and the most challenging?

The most challenging part of my day I find is when I am waiting on other people to do things.  I really enjoy my job, and I love working with other people (I get a bit stir crazy if I’m by myself too long!) but sometimes, especially during busier times of the year, it can be frustrating having to follow up with people to move simple things forward.

What sorts of clients do you deal with day to day? Is your role client facing?

At the moment, because of the responsibilities in the accounts I am working on, I am generally dealing with other IBMers.  That can change quite quickly though and if I need to do something else I will be client facing at the drop of a hat (and sometimes with that much preparation time too!).  I generally am dealing with quite senior clients in the technical side of the business, but as I progress into my role and take on more responsibility it is also quite likely that I will be involved in more of the conversations with managers/decision makers in order to help guide technical discussions and progress the IBM solution for the client.

Do you have many opportunities to socialise or network with your colleagues and clients?

There is a large community of apprentices, students and graduates at Hurley so there are lots of opportunities to socialise. Being in the Foundation scheme makes it even easier because there are events and meetings scheduled regularly for you to attend to increase your network. 

Do you work under high pressure? If yes, how so?

I do, as an Architect, there is an understanding that the (technical) buck stops with you.  You need to know enough about the account, and whatever technical aspect is being discussed to explain the situation to everyone involved (some of whom may be quite unhappy!), advise on the best course of action (even if it’s the opposite to what people think!) and give solid and good guidance to all areas of the account.  Often you can be asked to do something you’ve not done before, and you just have to get on with it (asking for help as you need it).

What is most rewarding about your role?

Knowing that I am helping to develop industry standards, and push innovation and new ways of thinking about IT into the business world. 

Is your workload different day to day or orientated around routine? How does this affect your working day?

The work load can vary wildly on any given day from busy to super busy!  There’s always lots to do, and if you ask for it, there will always be more.  I try to get involved with as much as possible, and whilst I have clear plans for the day and I am pretty organised, sometimes you just have to go with the flow and make a new plan on the fly.

Are there opportunities for career progression within your career or sector?

Very much so – an Architect role is a really long term role, and if you push yourself to learn more (both technically and from those around you) you can move up to really interesting, influential places relatively quickly and always be a useful and necessary resource in the business. 

IBM Graduate Case Study - Technical Solutions Specialist

Name: Lizzy Hamer
Degree: Computer Science
University: University of Manchester
Role: Technology Solutions Specialist  

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy being in control of what roles and projects I join. It’s great to know that I can choose a role that interests me and get a wide range of experience. I’m currently doing a Financial Modelling role which has meant working with a great team and really getting to grips with some of IBM’s pricing processes.

Why did you chose to join IBM?

I chose to join IBM largely because of the enormous amount of opportunities available to tailor my career to suit myself. After I finished university I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do – now I have the chance to explore a number of different roles and find out what I enjoy doing best. 

How has your experience in the role compared with your expectations?

I have been given a lot more responsibility than I would have initially expected – which has been great. From the offset, I have been an integral member of the team and have been able to take ownership of my own role.

What sort of training did you receive?

When I first joined IBM I had a 5 week induction course where I was introduced to my role and to the company. The induction gave me a fantastic grounding for starting my first role and it was also great to meet and spend time with people in the same position as I was – I met some amazing people that I’m still in touch with now. It was hard work but we had a lot of fun too!

How do you think you have developed since joining IBM?

I’ve grown in confidence and learnt so much from the people around me. There have been so many people willing to answer questions and help me learn which has enabled me to settle in right away.

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