An insight into Extreme Blue

By Sanjay LavakareExtremeBluelogo_300x218

I manage the Extreme Blue program, IBM’s premier internship program. Extreme Blue provides a platform for the best technical & business talent from top universities to collaborate on real-world projects and provide out-of-the-box solutions to business challenges.The program runs in 15 locations across 11 countries – USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, India & China.

What could a participant on the program expect to gain and/or learn?

The short project timelines and high importance deliverables guarantees an exciting, adrenaline-rush for the interns. Additionally, the participants get to network with some of the best technical minds, clients and leaders in IBM. This gives them the opportunity to refine their own skills in the process and possibly, get to know their true interests and potential for their future career.

Needless to say, they also stand to get some great job opportunities with IBM after their internship has ended.

What makes this program stand out from other internship programs?

Extreme Blue is a race against time that compels the participants to prove their creativity, passion and knowledge to tackle cutting-edge, real world challenges. The fact that the results of these projects are often integrated with IBM products & services or business solutions for clients, is what makes this an experience like no other.

The grand-finale (expo) completes the experience, with the participants getting a once in a lifetime opportunity to present their innovative solutions to top IBM leaders (including the IBM CEO).

EB group workingWhat kinds of projects do the teams work on?

There are a wide range of projects that the interns get the opportunity to work on. All projects aim to add an innovative twist to IBM’s products, tools or services and even address a real business challenge for our clients.At the end of the project, the interns are expected to present tangible deliverables, such as a proof of concept, a process framework or even a working prototype.

All our projects have a strong focus on IBM’s growth areas: Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social, Security and Watson and provide a first-hand experience for the interns to experience and experiment with these technologies.

One of the program’s great successes in the past has been its contribution to the “SMS for Life” project for effective distribution of malaria-drugs in Africa and which helps to save lives. Read more about it here.

Another recent project involved working with an online retailer to develop their social media strategy to increase personalized recommendations and thus increase income and competitive advantage.

In addition there have also been significant contributions from the Extreme Blue projects to the Open Source community. Finally, there are patents. 400+ and counting can be attributed directly or indirectly to Extreme Blue projects in the last 15 years.

What have students gone on to do after the program?

Extreme Blue students are highly valued and respected given the high selection standards and demands of the internship.Getting these students back in IBM, as full time employees and harnessing their potential to achieve their own career goals as well as to enhance IBM’s own talent pool is on top of the agenda.We strive to get the best job offers, suiting the student’s aptitude and aspirations and have some shining examples of Extreme Blue alumni now being in positions of Vice Presidents, CTOs and Technical Architects in IBM.

What do you look for in applicants?

We look for self-motivated, team players who are true problem solvers and have an analytical mind-set coupled with the ability to turn ideas into reality.

In terms of specific skills and qualifications, the requirements may vary from country to country – from undergrads to Masters. However generally, we look for candidates with some experience in, or exposure, to Mobile development, Big Data Analytics and Cloud technologies.

For Business interns, we primarily look at MBAs with proven ability to tackle business issues in a highly dynamic, technology based environment. They should also have a history of personal initiatives for exploring technology, illustrated by a clear understanding of Information Technology business trends.

What key hints and tips would you give to someone considering Extreme Blue?

  • Expect the unexpected.
  • It will be a race against time – so brush up on your time management and multi-tasking skills.
  • Collaboration is key, come in with an open mind and be receptive to ideas and concepts that may be new or different.

How could a candidate make themselves stand out when applying for the program?

Highlight your innovative accomplishments, not just your academics. Have you been a part of any technology or leadership forums in your college? Have you perhaps, developed a niche app? Did you lead any social initiatives in your community? Tell us about these accomplishments so we know that you’re a strong candidate.

How does someone apply to the program?

In most of the participating countries, students can apply online. You can visit here to see the application formalities.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Extreme Blue internship program then please visit our website here.

Want to learn more about our other opportunities and what it is really like to work at IBM? Check out our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for more info.

What will you make with IBM?

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