In the fifth of our Digital Apprentice interviews we speak to Avtar, who started his Apprenticeship with IBM in September 2014.
IBM are a multinational technology and consulting company. IBM manufactures and markets computer hardware, middleware and software, and offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology.
How did you find out about the Digital Apprenticeship programme and what attracted you to signing up? During my second year of A Levels, I spoke to my Dad and Uncle about the Universities I should apply to. They gave me their advice and also told me to keep my options open as I could find a University equivalent that may be better than University. I took their advice and started for looking for University equivalents. At this point in time, I wanted to go to University, and was happy going to the one closest to me, Aston University. This was my firm choice and Nottingham was my insurance choice. As my uncle works for IBM, I decided to look on their website for any school leaver schemes. To my luck, they had an Apprenticeship scheme and I decided to apply. What attracted me to signing up to this apprenticeship scheme was the hands on learning and interaction with big clients.
Why did you chose the IBM Apprenticeship? The main reason that I decided to do the apprenticeship scheme with IBM rather than going to university was because IBM are one of, if not, the biggest IT consulting companies in the world. I knew it would be much more difficult to get a Job with IBM in the future and that I would be able to progress a very good and sustainable career with IBM. The IBM apprenticeship scheme was the only one that I applied for and I feel that I would’ve gone to University if I didn’t get the offer of employment with IBM.
Tell me about the application process? The application process for the IBM Apprenticeship Scheme starts off with an application form which can be found on their School Leavers website. If successful after the application form, you complete an IPAT (Aptitude) Test to test your logical numerical and other skills. If passed, your application form is looked at in further detail, then you may or may not be invited to an assessment centre where you are grouped with other IBM Applicants to complete group activities, a presentation, a paper based IPAT test and an interview. If successful here, you may be invited back for an interview with a task manager in a business unit to find out whether you are suitable for his area. If you are not successful in this interview, you will still be selected for the apprenticeship scheme but will undertake other interviews by task managers to help find you a suitable business unit.
Tell me about your average day? As I have just changed roles, my average day is frequently changing and I am learning new things. However, as a performance tester in my previous role, my average day consisted of running a load through HP LoadRunner, then through HP Performance Center. After I had ran the test, I would do the analysis, mainly using tools such as HP Analysis and Microsoft Excel. If there were issues with the test and there had been errors or fails, I would look at the script and code to try see where the error was coming from, and then either fix the issue or speak to someone who could fix the issue from their side.
What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship? Why? I mainly enjoy the hands on experience that I gain from the roles that I do. I enjoy this because it allows me to improve my technical skills in a way which other people at university wouldn’t be able to. There are documents which we need to read in order to learn about the software or technology that we are using, but then we get to use the software, and I feel that the hands on learning is the learning type that is best suited for me.
How long is your apprenticeship & what qualifications/prospects will you have at the end of the training? The IBM apprenticeship scheme is 3 Years in duration. The qualifications you gain vary on the type of apprenticeship scheme you choose. So the business or technical apprenticeship. In addition to this, you can complete training courses, such as Prince 2, throughout your apprenticeship to help build your skills and knowledge.
What effect has the apprenticeship had on you? The apprenticeship scheme has definitely had a positive effect on me. I have had the chance to become a better and more confident person. I started the apprenticeship scheme being a quiet person, but gradually, the apprenticeship scheme is bringing me out of my shell and I am already a more confident person. I feel that this was a skill of mine that needed improving and the apprenticeship scheme has definitely done this already.
What is your ultimate goal in life? My main goal in life, is to have a sustainable job, with a good income to support myself and family, when I have one. I would like to be able to maintain a work life balance and enjoy my job.
What would I say to someone considering an apprenticeship? If you think an apprenticeship is for you, then I am in 100% support of you applying for the scheme. You will learn so much, and have the chance to interact with people and clients that you may have only dreamt about working with before. Even if you feel that it may be the wrong thing for you, there’s nothing to lose as everything you do in the apprenticeship scheme is an experience. You won’t have lost any money as the apprenticeship scheme offers you a salary, and you will have skills that you can use in the future, in whichever path you take next.