Opportunity, Progression and Development – 3 Benefits of IBM’s UK Apprenticeship Scheme

By Chris Achiampong

Chris Achiampong image from BIS campaign
Image Credit: UK’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.  GetInGoFar Campaign

First, please share with us what led you to joining the IBM UK Apprenticeship Scheme.

I worked for one of the big 4 accountancy firms and had a good experience. However I wanted a new challenge and the opportunity to work in technology. I conducted a lot of research and the IBM UK Apprenticeship scheme was most appealing, particularly its emphasis on progression, so I felt that I could grow and be nurtured by my IBM experience.

There are no academic subjects specifically required to apply. I studied English literature, business studies and psychology. Prior to this I played football for Arsenal Football Club and had aspirations to be a professional football player. Unfortunately, this dream was short lived due to a career ending injury; therefore it was important to me to focus on my education and career prospects.

It fills me with great pride to work for IBM – it is an innovative, forward thinking company with a strong history, heritage and brand.

How would you describe your initial experience?

When asked what the IBM Apprenticeship scheme means to me, I immediately think of three words: opportunity, progression and development.

My experience at IBM has been incredibly positive. The company provides world class opportunities, actively encourages progression and this has had a tremendous impact on my development, both personally and professionally. The scheme has helped me gain a significant insight into the technology consultancy market. It has also provided me with a large network of friends and colleagues to collaborate and learn from.

My first impression of IBM was a keen willingness from colleagues to help and support you as you begin your career and the continued support as you grow within your role. This support is essential in the early stages of your career, as guidance and direction help to build a strong foundation. Also, I was surprised at the amount and range of fantastic products and solutions we offer to our clients.

The scheme exudes opportunity for progression and provides an enriching learning and working experience. An example of this would be the IBM Top Gun training course I attended in Milan which was a fantastic experience as you increase your sales, solutions, competitive and technical skills. Having the opportunity to meet and work with those from a different culture and background was a phenomenal learning experience.

What do you value most in this experience?

IBM invests substantially in your personal and professional development.

One of IBM’s most positive aspects is the substantial support I receive. For example, I have an Early Professional Manager, and we meet on a regular basis and they offer essential career guidance and direction. When I first joined I was assigned various buddies, which helped me to settle into the role and find my feet within the new work place. You also receive a lot of training and are exposed to a wealth of resources within the company. The support you receive, especially in your early years, is extremely valued and important.

What other things are you looking forward to in your IBM career?

I am currently working in sales in the software defined infrastructure team, but I also want to experience other elements of the company in order to enhance my knowledge of the organization and gain a broader sense of what we offer. I aim to look into opportunities to travel and work abroad, as it would be a great opportunity to understand other culture and collaborate ideas. I want to gain more experience and hopefully achieve a few promotions! I am passionate about social mobility and helping our community, and it would be great if I could do more work with the Corporate Social Responsibility team.

Has your IBM Apprenticeship experience impacted you in other ways?

I was delighted to be involved in the Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) campaign of the UK government, which aims to encourage more apprenticeships, school leaver programs and alternative schemes to employment; to show that University is not the only way! I feel proud that my experience has led to this campaign which has the ability to inspire and motivate others. I have been overwhelmed with the amount of support and the positive responses I have received.

What advice would you give to others who are considering apprenticeship opportunities?

Do your research, consider what skills/qualities you have that you could contribute to an organization, and believe in yourself! Some people have differing views about apprenticeships with regards to progression, pay, job security and the ongoing debate between getting a degree or going straight to work. After completing my A Level examinations I declined an offer to study Economics at Loughborough University, and chose to do an apprenticeship. Without sounding biased, I can honestly say choosing an apprenticeship has been one of the best decisions I have ever made! So far my choice to do an apprenticeship has not limited my career, in fact I feel I have benefited more from this scheme than I would have had I gone to university.

If you think it’s right for you, take the leap of faith!

And lastly, never be afraid to try something different. It is easy to be influenced by your friends, parents and teachers who want the best outcome for you; don’t let their wishes completely impact you from making your own life choices. If you think it’s right for you, take the leap of faith!

Christopher Achiampong is a Sales Specialist –Storage with IBM UK.

To find out more about our apprentices scheme, visit our UK recruitment website.

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