Many students have their career path planned out and seem to know what they want to do since they started education! But what about those that either have no idea or have changed their minds part way through their school years?
Jemila from Woodhouse College told us about how she went from always wanting to pursue a career in law to becoming an apprentice at IBM, one of the world's largest technology companies.
Thank you to Jemila for sharing her story and journey with us - we are sure you'll find her insights as interesting and insightful as we did.
Tell us about your interest in law at school.
When I was in school I was always attending networking events and workshops about careers and work experience. I was so focused on gaining experience because I was interested in pursuing law as a career at the time, and law is known to be particularly competitive.
I saw those events as a way to gain insight into different companies, but also as a way to show that I was keen on the subject. I remember going to an event for law undergraduates when I was in Year 12 and being asked a lot of questions by the professionals at the event because I was so much younger than everyone else. A lot of them were curious at why I was so eager to get involved in law than them when they were my age.
What part did Uptree play in helping you look at other career options?
Uptree was the catalyst for the start of my career. I used the Uptree website regularly to find out about new opportunities and came across an event with IBM. Uptree gave me a good place to start and helped me find my bearings while navigating a new potential career field.
Jemila also attended numerous Uptree events such as FuturesUP, work experience days with KPMG and EY, as well as an IBM Application Masterclass. You can view events in your area here or through your Uptree account at www.uptree.co
What advice do you have for current students interested in a similar career path?
Learn some facts!! Especially if you want to apply to IBM. I remember being asked something I’d read off a Wiki page in passing. Learn the basics about the company you are applying to join, it really shows that you aren’t just applying to any and every company.
Another thing is again, don’t over-do it. Pick and choose events that you think are relevant to what you want to do, and go to ones where you think you will learn the most. Spend the extra time on hobbies, extra-curriculars, anything you’re interested in.
You don’t need to do things just for the sake of making it look good for your CV. Ideally, it would be something you can relate back to your potential career field in some way. One example of this for a tech role would be a little side project that you are interested in.
Lastly, apply early because applications close soon ☺ Good luck!
What's it like working for IBM?
Jemila shared some points about working for IBM which might surprise you:
Working at IBM is really different from other jobs I have had. One thing I can say about IBM is that apprentices and grads especially (we are all called Early Professionals) are really well taken care of. There is a community for Early Professionals so you will always have other apprentices and grads who are at the same stage as you. Everyone gets their own manager which is also different from my other jobs.
IBM is very generous with providing everything you could possibly need to do something you’re interested in. You want to do a course? Volunteer somewhere? Speak to your manager and there’s probably someone who has done it (and funding available for it). It’s very easy to carry on any passion projects you might be interested in, and even make it into something other IBMers could get involved in.
Regarding the actual work you do, it’s usually never set in stone if you start off doing a specific job role. We work on a project-by-project basis so you can definitely move onto different projects and take on a different role altogether, as long as you have the training that is required. Of course, if you already know what you like, you could just as well specialise in that and become very good at it by taking on that specific role as you move along on different projects.
Closing remarks & insider knowledge
If most of my team is at my base location (London ), I would usually work from there. If my team was based globally, I would work from home or go into the office if I had any meetings or other things scheduled.
I am currently working on a project up in Preston so I stay in a hotel on weekdays and travel down to London at the end of the week. It can be a bit of a hassle but if you like travelling/commuting it would suit you. Expenses are usually all paid for if you are travelling away from your base location for a project, which is exciting.
As a degree apprentice I also have a degree I need to work towards, so I get one day a week to do lectures online and any assignments or coursework that I get given. Those days are spent at home. It can be a lot to juggle at once but you get better at prioritising over time.
I also sometimes do things called ’Giveback’ which is what we call any type of volunteering events, so whatever I have signed up to is what I would be doing in a day, because you can sometimes get the day off to do giveback if it’s agreed with your manager.
Uptree wishes Jemila all the best in her apprenticeship with IBM. If you are also interested in meeting IBM or applying for one of their apprenticeships, you can visit their company page: https://uptree.co/ibm/