A Legacy of Greatness

By Amadi White

The IBM Diversity, Recruiting and Black Business Resource Groups in Atlanta, Georgia recently hosted an IBM day for a select number of honor students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State (NC A&T) University. A total of 42 students participated in the event aimed at providing professional development opportunities to the students and connect them with IBMers.

Amadi White, a senior in Architectural Engineering in NC A&T, and one of the participant’s shares her experience.

The Welcome

Amadi White.jpgWhere do I even begin? Love and genuineness greeted all 42 of us as soon as we stepped in the door.
An enthusiastic man by the name of Mr. Anthony Testman received us as we made our way off the bus, while Mrs. Claybrooks Jones took our photos as we entered the building  — we felt like superstars!. Their warm welcome was something that helped lift our spirits as we anticipated what IBM had in store for us. We entered the office where we were greeted with NC A&T paraphernalia and we automatically felt right at home. AGGIE PRIDE was in full effect! At that moment, I knew this event was designed with us in mind.

The Challenge
Reputation is what people think and say about you when you leave the room. What do you want to be known for?

As the program began, we had the pleasure of hearing from an IBM Distinguished Engineer — Mr. Calvin Lawrence. He expressed the importance of staying true to yourself and letting your works do the talking for you. The title Distinguished Engineer is not something that is given to someone without much consideration. It is given to individuals who show exemplary behavior, consistency, and patience.  Which leads us to the first workshop of the day about, Personal Branding. Moderated by Sarah McNee and Gary Schneider, the personal branding workshop provided specifics on how to become marketable, how to develop yourself, and how to build diverse relationships. At the end of the workshop, we were given challenging questions that caused us to reflect on what was preventing us from improving our personal brand and how to go about correcting it.

Blasts from the Pasts – Meeting Fellow Aggies in IBM
Representation matters. Do you understand the impact of being able to see alumni from your institution sit before you as employees of such a large, well-respected company? It kind of makes you feel like you were born into a legacy of greatness.

NC AT IBM Day 153.jpg

The panel discussion was another highlight of the whole event. Aggie Alum flew in from all over the country to take part in the day that was dedicated to us. The panel discussion gave us an opportunity to ask individuals who were in our same position about how they were able to navigate through undergrad, “adulting”, the corporate world and life. Because they were A&T Alum, the conversation was more intimate. This allowed for us to ask honest questions because they knew exactly what  it was like to be an engineering student at A&T, taking such rigorous classes in hopes of one day getting a good job. It was like being able to talk to your older brother and sister! I loved it! Some of the notable A&T alumni on the panel included Patrick Curry, Sharon Harris, Christina Evans, Dwayne Branch and Jimmie Powell.

Knowing IBM In Depth

We were given an in-depth look at the many careers IBM offers. We were able to see what the requirements were for a developer, consultant, designer, data scientist, etc.–  the list of opportunities was extensive! I appreciated being able to see the advantages that came with the various occupations.

One of my favorite parts was when we broke into groups and learned about the Summit Program and IBM Cognitive. Both of which are wonderful opportunities to learn, develop and be an asset in a hands-on environment. We were in groups that consisted of about five students and two IBM employees. One of the things that touched me the most was the authenticity of all the employees we came across. They were so open and honest, but most of all they genuinely cared! Each student was given a chance to discuss what we were passionate about and where we saw ourselves in the future. You can tell when someone is disinterested in a conversation because they lose eye-contact and change their body language; however, would you believe me if I told you that every employee I spoke with had a twinkle in their eye as we talked about things we were proud to accomplish? It’s true and it meant so much to see that people you have never met were just as happy to hear about your aspirations as you were to express them.

The IBM Generosity
Love greeted us as we came in, and embraced us until the very end. We were sad to leave! A humongous THANK YOU to Mrs. Crystal Claybrooks Jones and Mr. Anthony Testman. The fact that they wanted to create something like this, FOR US, overwhelms me. I could tell the amount of time and energy that went into the event. Even when they did not know we were watching them, I could see how much it meant that everything was going perfectly, and according to plan. They made us feel like we were their own. They fed us, gifted us and most of all provided us with an opportunity to see that we too have the ability to do great things in this world. They poured so much positivity and hope within all of us – pushing and challenging us to become not only better students, but better people.

To all the IBM employees that volunteered their time to come speak with us, we thank you! You have given us wisdom that we will take with us everywhere we go. A special “AGGIE-PRIDE” to my fellow aggies that have gone on to do wonderful things at IBM! We look up to you and are extremely proud to call you family! In one sentence, I would say the A&T Day at IBM gave all of us students an opportunity to see firsthand that the potential we have within us is far greater than we realize. We appreciate all of those who helped us see that! I highly recommend IBM Day for HBCUs across the nation.

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