IBM Extreme Blue Program – Providing Solutions to Business Challenges

Ross Grady, manager of the IBM Extreme Blue lab, has been with the Extreme Blue program for the past 10 summers, and has helped mentor over 40 different Extreme Blue project teams. He is one of four Extreme Blue staffers in the United States. As part of this role, he reviews around 2000 applications, conduct over 500 interviews, and handle all the hiring associated with staffing 8 projects per year.

We interviewed him to get a scoop on IBM’s Extreme Blue program and he shared insight into this premier internship program for top-notch students pursuing software development and MBA degrees and also provided insider tips for potential candidates.


Why should top notch students participate in the IBM Extreme Blue program? What could a participant expect to gain and/or learn?

Extreme Blue provides opportunities for our interns to collaborate and share expertise on business and technical projects and activities that are relevant to solving real world business challenges. Participants get a chance to network with the best-in-breed business and technical leaders at IBM and interlock with our clients to provide meaningful solutions. The goal is for participants to develop their business and technical skills, and also contribute towards IBM transformation in this era.

What makes this program stand out from other internship programs?

Extreme Blue allows participants to be free to discover their potentials, express their creativity and maximize mentorship opportunities from IBM leaders. The projects are not abstractly conceived but real world challenges that offers a chance to contribute their passion and creativity towards advancing IBM’s products and services solutions. At the end of this 12-week experience, our interns get a once in a lifetime opportunity to present their solutions to IBM leaders, including the CEO.

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What project is the most memorable for you?

One of my favorite projects from recent years was our Project Aviator, which utilized machine learning to make more accurate cloud provisioning projections for our major sports sponsorship web partners (for example, the websites for many of the major tennis tournaments). The team looked at straightforward data (such as time of day, and traffic rates from previous events) but also domain-specific data, such as the schedule of matches, and the relative popularity of the players scheduled to play each match. This allowed them to tailor provisioning projections more accurately, based on the actual audience projections for a given match.

To improve on these daily projections, they then mined Twitter for up-to-the-moment data about player and event popularity – if they saw a lot of tweets about a particular player, for example, they could predict that this player’s next match might bring an increase in traffic to the event website.

I’m proud of this project in part because the technology was really cool, but also because it went from idea, to prototype, to being used in production on an actual tournament website in less than 12 months. Not bad for the work of four interns over a single 12-week summer internship.

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What will be your top insider tips for a potential candidate to the Extreme Blue Program?

Exact requirements vary from lab to lab, but across the world, our primary criteria for Extreme Blue are the same — We are looking for students who are eager to explore the intersection of business and technology. The next generation of IBMers must have the ability to talk to customers, to understand their pain points, and to build cutting-edge solutions that successfully solve those pain points in a way that is competitive in the marketplace.

To that end, we love to see Extreme Blue applicants who have previously worked on teams, delivering working solutions for actual users/customers. This could be in a classroom environment, extracurricular work, or on a previous internship. There are countless opportunities out there to build working solutions for existing problems, and the best Extreme Blue applicants would have taken advantage of those opportunities.


How does someone apply to the program?

Candidates who are interested in the program can check out the application procedure here.

Check out this short video to learn more about the IBM Extreme Blue Program.

Ross Grady manages the IBM Extreme Blue lab, RTP North Carolina

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

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