Have you ever wondered what it’s like for early professional females to work in a tech environment? This blog could answer some of your burning questions if you are considering an apprenticeship, internship, or a graduate role at IBM.
To address the issue of gender gap in the tech industry, IBM UK created the Girls Who Can community to give young women in IBM a helping hand through networking opportunities, technical education, community outreach, and social programmes. The community celebrates having women in technology, and simultaneously recognises and attempts to bridge the gaps that women in the workplace may face.
We interviewed three of our high-achieving female early professionals who are members of the Girls Who Can community, and we asked them to share their experiences working in IBM.
Firstly, please share with us your current role in IBM.
My HR apprenticeship aims for me to experience both the breadth and depth of HR practices across IBM. I started in the UK Compensation team running annual salary cycles and performance bonus programs and I now work in the UKI HR projects team, exercising key project management skills and the chance to get creative!
I am a Commercial Manager on the Cooperative Bank account. I support the Senior Commercial Manager in liaising with the client on contractual and commercial matters. This means I communicate with both IBM and Cooperative Bank commercial teams to track payment for the services we deliver and ensure that contractual obligations are being fulfilled.
I’m a Bid Manager within Strategic Sales. Each complex deal has several key players, and the role of the Bid Manager is to bring the team together and assist in driving the deal to ensure that all client deliverables are made, on time, and within budget.
Why did you choose to join IBM?
Sarah: The award-winning IBM apprenticeship scheme seemed a no-brainer upon finishing my A-Levels. I was very keen to get into a working environment, where I was able to earn and learn whilst studying for my HR qualification. The support for apprentices within IBM is immense – we are doing real jobs with real responsibility and I feel like I am really making a difference. What a good choice I made!
Arinola: When I decided to apply for a placement, I was interested in finding out how the Commercial/Finance department of a big business operated. I knew that the only way I could get the most out of my experience was by taking on responsibility and as a result, making an impact. After speaking with an IBM intern at a careers fair, I was sure that IBM would provide just what I needed – and it has.
Zulekha: My one year placement cemented my appetite to pursue a career at IBM. I obtained an offer on the Graduate Scheme before returning to University which also made it easier! Not many Graduate Schemes offer the flexibility of rotating within different areas of the company. With IBM being such a large organisation, one of the many benefits from rotating is the opportunity to take on multiple distinct roles. This really helps to widen your professional network.
What do you consider as your biggest achievement since you started working at IBM?
Sarah: I was always unsure if being the only one of my friends who didn’t go to University would hinder me in any way. However, I have gained self-confidence, personal skills and a real business acumen over the past year or so. Becoming an apprentice was the best decision I have ever made. I recently even won a highly commended award for South East higher/degree apprentice of the year!
Arinola: I remember starting out and feeling worried that I could not possibly know all I needed to by the end of my handover period. Since then, I have found that with support – which I have gotten a lot of – and time, my confidence in my ability to do well in my role and more has increased substantially. I recently gave a brief talk about my time in IBM at a Women in Tech event and I was in excellent company with inspiring women like Wendy-Ann Haskey and Maria McDade.
Zulekha: There have been two highlights of my experience in IBM so far:
1) Managing a critical path project which received high focus from wider Transition and Transformation management. With little handover, working with five external parties to implement a Business 2 Business Link and a VPN Link made this slightly difficult as each party has their own individual interests. However, it was implemented successfully on time, and received positive client feedback.
2) Robo Challenge – Teaching the essentials of programming Lego Robots to kids aged 8-11 weekly, in preparation to compete in IBMs 10th Anniversary Robo Challenge. This would be one of my proudest achievements as after three months of preparation my team won first place in the Robo Dance Competition.
Whatever your route into IBM, our early professionals are all experiencing real roles with real responsibilities.
If you are interested in an apprenticeship, internship, or graduate role, please visit the IBM UK Careers website. https://www.ibm.com/jobs/uk