Uptree alumni, Elizabeth Harrison, is currently training to be a Junior Management Consultant with IBM on their apprenticeship programme.
As this apprenticeship route combines real-life work placements with education modules, resulting in a high-quality qualification, we were keen to find out what made Elizabeth stand out from the crowd!
In this post, Elizabeth shares how Uptree helped her on her journey and how she navigated through the IBM application process.
How did you find out about Uptree?
Elizabeth knew by the time she was in Sixth Form that she didn’t want to go to university so she’d started to look at apprenticeships, and relevant events so that she could get a feel for the companies before she applied. Through independent internet research, Elizabeth found Uptree - she signed up and attended a few events which lead her to apply for her current IBM role.
You can see which Uptree events are taking place in your local area here.
What Uptree events did you attend?
Elizabeth attended a PWC day event which she said was great as ‘it lead me to the conclusion that I wanted to go into a consultancy role’.
She then started to narrow her searches down and a few months later saw an IBM insight day. Elizabeth said, ‘after researching IBMI knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to go down and view the offices and get to know more about the company.’
IBM offices, South Bank, London
After this event she immediately applied for a job at IBM and went through the application process. Elizabeth also attended an Uptree Application Masterclass which is aimed at students apply for jobs such as the one at IBM. Elizabeth told us that the event ‘taught me a lot of valuable skills and knowledge that I used when applying for my job’.
How did you prepare for your IBM interview?
Elizabeth did a lot of research for the interview and reached out to a few people she knew that had applied for similar job roles. She met with them to discuss the process and stages of the application. Asked about the video interview, Elizabeth said that the IBM interviewers were ‘very calming and made me feel at ease within minutes’.
IBM application process stages
Uptree also has an interview blog that you can read to help you prepare further: https://uptree.co/blog/standard-interview-types/
What advice would you give Uptree students who are in a similar position now to you back then?
When applying for a job, just be you and don't portray yourself as what you would typically expect a company to desire. As long as you show confidence and present yourself in the best possible light then that is all you can do. In the meetings the interviewers are looking for candidates that show drive and determination.
Do your research on the companies for basic background knowledge as you want to show commitment to the company early on and aspirations to learn.
What's it like working at IBM?
Elizabeth attended various insight events at different companies but she said that IBM clearly stood out as having major commitment for their employees’ morale.
She explained that on her work experience day in South Bank, her first impressions were great:
'The company’s working environment was creative, spacious and inventive, the building had various floors full of tools that all employees could use to aid their work. There were work station booths which anyone could work in, huge canteen space, client sites which showcased some massive achievements the company had made, gaming areas but most important the employees that were walking around seemed so happy to be there.’
It’s reassuring to hear that what Elizabeth encountered at the work experience day was genuine! She told us that after 6 months at IBM, she is very happy and ‘everyone I work with treats you as a fellow employee no matter what level you are working at or how old you are’.
Tell us about a recent project you’ve been working on.
Excitingly, Elizabeth has already been placed on multiple projects around different cities. She tells us about her most recent project which was based in Birmingham working with National Grid.
I stayed in hotels around 3-4 days a week then would work from either the office in London or home for the other days. This was a great experience for me as I was able to get a taste of travelling outside of London whilst meeting some great individuals and colleges that I am still in touch with after the project.
And the social side of being an apprentice?
Elizabeth and fellow apprentices at IBM's 'Foundation Think Together' awards
We heard from Elizabeth that, 'IBM has various social events weekly ranging from after work drinks, to ball events, organising ski trips to sporting activities. The list goes on to how many things you can do outside of work that the company organises and supports. I have made life long friends at the company and have been able to create amazing memories with them at the social events through IBM.'
We thank Elizabeth for sharing her experiences with Uptree and our network and hope that her story gives you an insight into what it’s like working for a global consultancy & technology company.
If you want to learn more about IBM, head over to their company page here on Uptree.
You can also view their current apprenticeship opportunities here: https://www.ibm.com/uk-en/employment/school_leaver.html