From Recent College Grad to Associate Offering Manager to Fulbright Researcher

By Stella Liu

I will always remember what it felt like to graduate from college – the excitement of turning in the last exam of the year, saying bye to your favorite professors and receiving your college diploma in the mail.

But it was also  scary… after years of following a defined path of moving from grade to grade with clear goals (getting A’s), it felt intimidating to face the uncertainty of what will lie ahead and tackle the more ambiguous goals of identifying my passions and developing my career.

Stella Liu – IBM Associate Offering Manager and Fulbright Researcher

So I took a deep breath and did what one of my mentors suggested. I wrote up a list of my strengths and past experiences and linked them with various career opportunities. Coming from an entrepreneurial background of starting up a company and other non-profit initiatives, product management came high on the list. I was drawn to the idea of being responsible for a product from beginning to end and getting to be a visionary instead of being confined to a specific role or task.

This is how I stumbled upon IBM’s Associate Offering Management Program and immediately knew that I had to apply. I was attracted to how the company is re-inventing product management for itself: changing the orientation, scope, accountability, and way of working.

Now it has been almost a year, and I have begun reflecting on my time here.

Here are three things that IBM offers for career development that have stood out to me:

The ability to pursue many different career paths and interests

I have found that IBM is a unique place in that once I discover a new passion, it is easy to find a team that is working in that specific area. IBM touches almost all industry verticals… from agriculture to retail… and offers a staggering amount of job positions. Many IBM veterans have told me that they were able to pursue multiple career paths without ever leaving the company.

The support to pursue your passions

 During the first half of the year, I was given some unexpected news… I ended up winning the Fulbright Grant to conduct research in Singapore. At that point, I felt invested to continue to develop in my role at IBM as I enjoyed the work that I was doing. When I brought up this news with my manager, we had a discussion about it and she advocated for me to go and take on the prestigious opportunity. I ended up receiving a leave of absence to pursue the Fulbright. I have landed in Singapore and I am impressed by how IBM supports its employees to grow and step outside their comfort zones.

The options for global assignments

IBM also provides a range of global opportunities that allow employees to travel and work in different countries. A few programs that stood out to me (and that I want to be a part of!) are Corporate Service Corps, international assignments and Smarter Cities Challenge. Corporate Service Corps is IBM’s shortened version of the Peace Corp where they send employees around the world to deliver service engagements in developing countries that can impact the community in a positive manner. International assignments are given to employees to work abroad for a given period of time. The Smarter Cities Challenge program sends IBMers around the world to deliver IBM technology that can address the cities’ greatest needs.

All in all, I feel very lucky to have found such a great fit early on in my career and I invite you to come discover what you can do at IBM. The opportunity is endless.

Join IBM Offering Management. We are building the next generation of product managers, innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders who are changing the very way the world works.

Stella Liu  is an Associate Offering Manager with IBM Watson IoT.

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