How I Became an Associate Offering Manager at IBM

While working as an IBM sales intern, Angela was intrigued by the Associate Offering Manager program at IBM. She was interested and had several questions, and now shares the answers to help others who are also considering the position.

By Angela Zhou

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I spent the summer after my junior year as an intern in IBM’s Summit Program in San Francisco. Within the company, I met a few offering manager interns who always seemed to be working on exciting projects. I was intrigued by the idea of immense responsibility the Associate Offering Manager (AOM) role required, and intended to apply once my internship ended. But even though I felt the program was a perfect fit for me, I was unsure of just what was required to join.

From my initial understanding, Offering Managers, or Product Managers, were people who have a deep technical background in computer science or engineering, but I didn’t have either, as I studied business, and was worried I wouldn’t be qualified to apply. As I sought out advice and information, I was able to answer the following questions and became more confident about applying for this role.

Do I need a technical background to succeed in this role?
The short answer is no. IBM looks across multiple dimensions and backgrounds for the right aptitude for offering management—generally a mix of business, technology and entrepreneurship—which is what makes the AOM program so special.

In my hiring batch alone, there are people who have studied business, arts, and architecture, as well as those who studied engineering. Some are military veterans, some hold advanced degrees, some have been working for a few years already, and some (like me) just graduated from college. Certainly, a technical background will help, but a lack of one can very well be made up for with curiosity and a willingness to learn.

How do I prepare for interviews?
The one thing I noticed throughout my interview rounds was that, in addition to business and technology skills, IBM values communication skills. Between describing a certain technology in layman’s terms and sharing my personal experience in an interesting way, I found preparing talking points and reading up on Product Management blogs to be extremely helpful. Some I found were Women in Product and Product School. As for my final onsite interview, I felt it was important to demonstrate collaboration while working in groups of 3-5 to present short solutions. This meant distributing roles, listening and being open to alternative ideas, and sharing presentation time with the other members of the team.

What is the AOM Bootcamp I’ve been reading about online?
The AOM boot camp is derived from IBM’s Design Bootcamp, and it is a 6-week project-based training on IBM design-thinking and offering management discipline. It involves learning from IBM developers, designers, current Associate Offering Managers, and other thought leaders within the company. But most importantly, it is a great opportunity to get to know the other Associate Offering Managers within your hiring class (such as watching the Super Bowl together)!

When/where would I start?
The AOM program currently only hires for the summer and winter start dates. Depending on business needs, you might get placed in one of your top three location choices. I will be in IBM’s Astor Place office in New York City!

Angela Zhou is an Associate Offering Manager at IBM. She is based out of New York City, working with IBM Watson. 


With these Q&A’s in mind, it’s a great opportunity to start considering your next career step with IBM’s Associate Offering Manager Program. You can learn more about job opportunities at https://www.ibm.com/employment/.

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