By Masha Tseveen.
Hello and welcome to another installment of the IBM University Programs interview series! In today’s edition, we’ll take a look at the IBM China Blue Pathway summer internship program. As we did in our previous series, we’ll chat with the program manager, Jing Zou, and two of her interns: Dou Hui from Tongji University and Heliang Liang from South China University of Technology. If you missed our previous posts, please check out the installments about the Extreme Blue and Consulting by Degrees programs.
Please tell us about the Blue Pathway Internship Program.
The Blue Pathway Internship Program is a major campus initiative in IBM, which aims at identifying talent from universities with great potential and the best fit with the company/jobs. It provides the interns opportunities to engage in real-time business and gain hands-on experience. The two-month internship program is viewed by our candidates as a “one-stop-shop” way to becoming full-time IBMers, since the top performing interns will generally be offered full-time opportunities upon their graduation within the next year.
The program has recruited more than 1,000 new employees since its first launch in 2004 and has a conversion rate of more than 50%. Various IBM business units and locations participate, covering almost all IBM functions and professions–HR, Finance, Marketing, Sales, Consulting, Technical Support, Software/Hardware Developing and Testing, and more.
IBM begins accepting student applications to the program in April every year, and the selected final candidates will begin their two-month internship journey with IBM in the beginning of July. During the internship, besides the well-designed major assignments that align the interns’ work to business strategy, the Blue Pathway Internship Program also provides them with valuable and comprehensive learning opportunities, including formal training, e-Learning, laboratory practices etc. The program also offers interns the valuable chance to work closely with clients and business partners, helping the interns to really understand the way IBM does business. Through the two-month practice, the interns will also be able to increase functional/professional knowledge, improve technical development and business insight, acquire business knowledge, and build upon their communication, coordination and team collaboration skills. Finally, as mentioned, the most outstanding interns are generally selected to receive an offer to return upon graduation to continue their career adventure with IBM.
In all, the Blue Pathway Internship Program is highly effective in providing two-way communication for both the organization and the students, and bringing top talent to the next stage of their career at IBM.
How are the projects selected for Blue Pathway?
The Blue Pathway Internship Program is not project-based. There is no project specifically designed for the BP interns; instead, all interns are offered to be involved in real-time business and ongoing projects/assignments in each business unit. By participating in the existing projects or other regular daily work, interns are able to work with IBMers, clients and/or vendors, so that they can learn about IBM’s culture, values, and business operations, as well as key attributes which IBM looks for in its employees.
Who can apply? What are the criteria?
We encourage applications through multiple channels, including job boards, on-campus info sessions, university programs, or the IBM careers website.
We review every applicant’s resume and base selection decisions on a composite of information, including students’ educational background, academic record, and/or relevant experience in the area. Applicants with an IT background may be preferred, but this is not the only criteria.
What advice would you give to applicants?
Firstly, learn about the company–its culture, history, and the organization structure as well as business domain.
Secondly, have a clear plan for career path in the future. Identify the gap between one’s capability and the qualification for a return offer, and do your best to close the gap by practicing and learning. Increase credibility by performing well and following through on all assignments. Be willing to ask questions or ask for help.
Thirdly, be positive and willing to innovate. There’s always a better way to do something.
Finally, to fully immerse oneself in IBM, one needs to build up a professional network, both formally and informally. Contribute to discussions, raise your visibility and attend social events, to the extent you can.
Here we spent some time chatting with Dou and Liang, to hear their experience at IBM.
Why did you apply to IBM?
Dou: I would like to take consulting as my first job after graduation. IBM GBS is very strong at consulting business and serves a lot of Chinese private clients. I think that the learning curve in IBM should be much more steeper than in other companies.
Heliang: I loved working in such an advanced global company. I can work with all kinds of colleagues. I can experience different kinds of thinking. With this, I will develop quickly.
Tell us about the projects you are involved in?
Dou: I am involved in an HR consulting project, which is designing a position and compensation system for the client. Our client is a fast growing logistics company, but they have never built up their HR system before.
Heliang: I am currently working as a Server Services Specialist on GTS sector ITS Delivery Mainframe Team. And now my work at a core banking Mainframe II project. This project is help the client bank implement a total new core banking Mainframe system. Although I am in charge of some basic system job, I believe I’ll become more professional after this project.
What are you studying in school? How have you applied your studies to your internship?
Dou: My major is translation in school. Although there is no direct linkage between my study and the internship work, I was trained to have good communication skills in school, which is very useful in interviewing in consulting work. This helps me to understand what is the client’s problem and concern.
Heliang: My bachelor’s degree major is network engineering and my master’s degree major is software engineering. I am gaining professional knowledge from my colleagues during my internship. I also learn how to deal with the relationship with the customer. Most importantly, I learned self-learning from the large number of Redbooks.
What has been your favorite part of working for IBM?
Dou: For me, the favorite part is working with a lot of top talent in IBM. All my colleagues are all brilliant and extraordinary. No matter if we have to work over time or the client is tough, I know that with my colleagues, we will always find the right approach and get the project done. I’m very happy to work with these guys.
Heliang: Generally, helping the client implement their target gives me a sense of accomplishment. What’s more, working at IBM, I can realize the client, IBM and myself all develop at the same time.