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 Rob, a current technical sales apprenticeship at IBM.
So, Robert, what attracted you to do an apprenticeship in the first place rather than any other pathway?
An apprenticeship for me was the best way forward. I found that I didn’t really enjoy A-levels and university. Particularly in my case, it wasn’t the right idea. It was also the idea of “earn while you learn”. So I was I was being paid while I worked and I was getting a qualification at the end of it. So that felt right for me.
Did you have anybody influence that decision to do an apprenticeship?
Yes, so it was probably actually the apprentice that came into my school to talk about it. He was from IBM and he basically sold it to me. Since then, I just applied and I went with it. So his role. IBM, and an apprenticeship, sounded brilliant.
What caught your attention about the program?
Probably the apprenticeship itself at IBM was the flexibility in roles, he sounded like he did a few different things at IBM and I felt like I was done at school and I didn’t want to continue to do the same thing and doing some different things with your experiences and doing a few different jobs at the same business sounded like a good idea for me.
So how did you find out about apprenticeships?
I was fortunate that at my school we run an apprenticeship fair where different businesses came in. IBM wasn’t there, but that then started the idea of maybe an apprenticeship is right for me rather than going through the standard university application. So, while people at school were applying for university, I was picking on different business websites going online. So instead of applying for university, I spent my time looking at different businesses and what they had to offer.
Okay, so tell me about your apprenticeship.
I’m an RFS manager, which is something that’s called ‘request for service’. The customer comes to us and says, we want this bit of work doing and I’m part of the process of getting that done. I write some contracts for them and price items, which is really exciting because it’s the start of the sales process. Sales is what I’d like to do.
And your apprenticeship is a sales apprenticeship?
Yeah, it is a technical sales apprenticeship.
And what do you value most about your apprenticeship?
It’s relatively straightforward. It makes sense. I find it exciting. And the IBM apprenticeship offers the flexibility in roles, working with driven individuals who want to get something done. No two days are the same. From the aspect of the job, I don’t see it as an apprenticeship as say, it’s a job where you get a qualification at the end.
So, if anybody is going to be applying for an apprenticeship now, what advice would you give to them?
Just do it. I think you should just go out there and apply.
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