How IBM Helped Me Ignite My Future

Arisha Jamal completed the Ignite Programme at IBM UK. In this blog, she talks to us about how she came to do the placement, her role at IBM, and her future aspirations.

About the Ignite Programme

IBM partners with City Gateway to run the “Ignite” work experience programme, which is part of the wider “Movement to Work” programme – an initiative focused on tackling youth unemployment, and targeted at young people aged 16-24 who are not in employment, education, or training (NEET). The programme runs for 12 weeks including five weeks of work experience at IBM, and seven weeks at City Gateway.

The Ignite Programme allows the trainees to be hands-on in roles in different areas of the company, where they work on real projects with real IBMers, giving them key transferable skills that they can use to enhance their employment prospects in whatever industry they then focus on.

Our blogger, Arisha Jamal, recently completed the five-week Ignite Programme at IBM UK.

By Arisha Jamal

ArisBorn and raised in Pakistan, I completed my studies in Karachi before an intermediate degree in the ‘pre-engineering’ field. My mother always raised me to be very social and confident, so all the credit for what I’ve achieved goes to her.

I’ve always had a keen interest in computers growing up – from being a game lover in my childhood, to trying new things with my PC and learning more about it. As a result of this interest, I have always been passionate about pursuing a profession within the technology industry.

After completing my degree, I got married in July 2016 and made the big move from Pakistan to London with my husband. I was both excited and worried, as this really was a life-changing move for me. Within one month I was with a different family, in a different country – and a totally different environment!

Discovering the City Gateway and IBM Traineeship Programme


Shortly after relocating I started to look for various work opportunities, I thought a traineeship or apprenticeship would be a good place to start my career as I didn’t have any work experience. During my search I came across City Gateway – a London-based charity that work for the welfare and success of society, with the aim to transform the lives of young people and women in the community.

City Gateway offered an IBM Traineeship, which got me really interested. To take part in this, I went through the assessment centre with City Gateway and another one with IBM – and I was successful; it felt like a dream!

My Traineeship at IBM

At first I was nervous about working in such a big corporation, but after meeting my Task Managers, Mentor and wider team, I came to realise that everyone is so helpful here and if you’re willing to put the work in they will support you.

After a two-day induction we were assigned our roles – mine was within the Recruitment Attraction & Marketing Team. I had two Task Managers with slightly different roles, one working with Schools and Universities in the UK, and another supporting European Recruitment Branding and Marketing initiatives. My role fundamentally consisted of marketing IBM as an employer of choice. In this role, I learned how to use social media as a platform for employer branding, and how other employers do this in comparison.

In my placement, I was able to attend an ‘Insight Day’ at Loughborough University and assist with a Recruitment Assessment Centre as part of my role. I was also lucky enough to have the time to network with lots of different IBMers; from visiting the IBM Design Studio and talking about the software behind the applications they create, to attending a session on BlueMix finding out about different coding language such as Python.

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Me (3rd from right) and the team at Loughborough University

Personal Highlights of Working in IBM

The transferable skills learnt at IBM are invaluable – effective communication and presentation skills, time management, and analytical research abilities – all helpful in my future endeavors. I may have had only five weeks in IBM, but I consider these as the highlights of my placement:

  • Creating a post for the IBM UK Careers & Jobs Facebook and Twitter accounts; once live I was able to see the reach and engagement my post had.
  • A trip to East London Radio where I attended a workshop on communication skills.
  • Attending a careers event at Loughborough University with my team. The ‘Insight Day’ was a Recruitment Clinic and we ran a mock CAT Test and Assessment Centre exercise, in addition to a ‘Design Thinking’ workshop.
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Me and my Task Managers

What I Learnt From my Ignite Traineeship

During my five weeks at IBM, I’ve learnt a lot about the company and how it supports the well-being of their population to transformational technology – from diversity and agile working, to artificial intelligence and cognitive systems – continuously working for the betterment of the world.

My ideal job would be in the animation for children, something that would bring happiness to one’s life… even if it is for a short time. But the role I have had at IBM has opened my eyes to HR – a business function I would surely love to work in!

Are you interested in taking part in an IBM Traineeship with City Gateway? If so, please see more information here:

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