This first week of February 2020, we celebrate two back to back milestones — the 10th anniversary of IBM UK’s Apprenticeship Program, and the National Apprenticeship Week 2020. To tell us more about the program and the experience, Julia Game, head of IBM’s Apprenticeship Program in the UK, interviews five amazing apprentices currently working at IBM.
In this installment, we meet Ella, a management consultancy apprentice who wanted to learn about business through day-to-day life experience.
So, Ella, tell me all about what made you decide to do an apprenticeship rather than other pathways.
I did business at A-level and I really enjoyed the subject. But I think I picked up quite quickly that it’s quite a content-heavy subject, so it was the kind of area that I wanted to go in but learn as I go along and have the day to day real-life experience rather than learn it all in theory context.
Ok, so did you have to convince anybody or have anybody influence you about apprenticeships at all?
My parents always thought I’d go to university, but they were open to the idea of apprenticeships. But my school were a bit tougher to convince because they were used to the format of sending all their students to university. So, I’d say my school was sort of the people that took the most convincing around it.
And I guess being academic it is probably something that they have not considered maybe?
Exactly. They liked the idea that you could still get a degree through doing an apprenticeship though, so I think that was definitely a plus.
So how did you find out about apprenticeships then?
I didn’t really ever want to go to university. I kind of started exploring my options quite early by just researching other alternatives to university, and the word “apprenticeship” popped up. When I found out I could do it in areas other than classic trades like plumbing and an electrician, I thought it’d be a great idea that I could do work straight away after school.
What made you choose IBM specifically?
Although I liked business as a field, I didn’t know exactly what sector I wanted to go into. And obviously being in the technology sector covers so many different clients in a range of situations. So I thought IBM would be a really good opportunity to explore different sectors and industries while also working with technology in the business field.
So tell me a bit about your apprenticeship. Which apprenticeship are you on and where are you up to?
So I’m currently on the junior management consultancy apprenticeship. My day to day role at the moment is a junior project manager, so it’s very business-focused. I don’t currently do the degree, but I’m hoping to do another degree apprenticeship at IBM when I finish this one.
What’s been the most valuable thing about your apprenticeship would you say so far?
As cliché as it sounds, I love IBM culture and the people who are really, really supportive. And there are so many different networks you can get involved with outside your day to day role that show you can do so much outside your day job really.
If you were going to be applying now, what kind of things would you be thinking about?? What advice can you give to people who are looking at applying?
I’d say definitely have a think about the skills you already have because you can definitely apply them to your application. And remember, all the opportunities you’ve had at school and outside of school, so far, because you’ve probably learned really valuable skills that you can bring forward. Do your research, make sure you apply to a scheme that you like that is doing a subject that you think you’ll enjoy and know as much as you can about the company. And just go for it. Just go for it.
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