Why mentoring rocks

By Kayla Heineman


Why You Want to Join the IBM Team

I work at a little place called IBM. It’s its own world, really — a world of endless opportunities for my professional career growth. In 2013, I started my current job with a company named Fiberlink and thrived in the creative, entrepreneurial atmosphere that influenced my decision to accept the position. Like many other IBMers, though, I joined IBM through an acquisition. I wasn’t sure how to feel about getting folded into a larger company, but it didn’t take me long to realize that being a woman in tech working for IBM is a valuable opportunity. So, I’m here to tell you why you want to work for one of the largest technology companies in the world.

There are many reasons to be proud of being on the IBM team, but one facet of IBM turned me into a true-blue believer: the mentoring program. Mentoring is beneficial for everyone involved – the mentor, the mentee and the company. It’s valuable for knowledge transfer, career development and retaining skilled employees. It’s no surprise that Fortune 500 companies are working harder to offer a mentoring program to their employees.

A Support Network of Informal Mentors at IBM

At previous companies, I didn’t have the support network I’m finding at IBM. Here I find that there’s a motivating balance between competition, collaboration and encouragement. I’ve had the pleasure of working for a couple of inspiring women since I started my role with Fiberlink a few years ago. They’ve created a feeling of trust, belonging and understanding that makes me comfortable thinking outside the box and voicing opinions. My managers give me advice to develop my strengths and guide my professional advancement.

I’ve also been encouraged to branch out and introduce myself to the vast IBM network of professionals in my field to learn how they contribute to the business. I might be an introvert, but I’m not shy about putting myself out there when it’s good for my career. I was surprised how willing my busy colleagues were to take time out of their day to talk to someone so fresh in their career. The experience was positive and I kept the momentum going, talking to as many people as possible. These conversations helped me map out a career path; just a few months earlier, I had no idea where my career was going.

The Formal IBM Mentor Program Eases Onboarding

Aside from learning from my amazing managers, I was assigned to a more formal mentor shortly after IBM’s acquisition of Fiberlink. She also joined IBM through a recent acquisition and was in a similar role to mine with roughly the same level of experience, so we immediately hit it off. We’re both hard workers, motivated and disruptive. She eased my transition with advice about what to expect next, who to network with and how to quickly find answers to my questions. It was critical having someone I could relate to and be completely honest with regarding my concerns and aspirations.

My experience with my mentors at IBM gave me the confidence to showcase my strengths and sparked excitement for the opportunities that will push my career ahead. I’m looking forward to mentoring someone in the future, providing subject-matter expertise while developing my leadership and coaching styles. I’ll strive to pay it forward by being a positive impact in someone’s life while they’re joining IBM – maybe someone like you!

Thank you for reading my story, which illustrates how IBM fosters a positive environment for women in tech. You can learn more about why IBM supports the women in tech movement on its website. I leave you with a quote by Maya Angelou,

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass”.


Kayla Heineman is an Associate Demand Program Professional at IBM. You can find her on linkedin here and on twitter @kayheineman.

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What will you make with IBM? ibm.com/jobs

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