As I approach the end of my 11th month at IBM, I thought I would give an overview of my experience and the benefits I have gained over the past (almost!) year.
Improve your skills
The workplace is a completely different environment compared to university life – you are exposed to the dynamics of a new job role and responsibilities which gives you the opportunity to test the academic skills and attributes you have developed over the past few years.
This year I have been able to improve my technical skills through IBM's learning resources, taking Badges and courses on Big Data and Watson whilst also applying the theory I have learnt in modules such as Financial Statement Analysis in my role as a Junior Project Manager when managing a customer financial portfolio.
Increase your employability
A placement year looks great on your CV! Employers are looking for graduates that can show the ability to work collaboratively through relevant work experience. A placement will open more doors when applying to graduate schemes, with many companies offering accelerated applications for placement students looking to return as graduates.
Build a professional network
Building a professional network is another huge benefit of a placement year and can prove important in your career development. IBM encourages placement students to expand their network through giveback which can range from charity events to business projects outside of your day-to-day role. We also have monthly social events such as First Wednesday drinks where you have the opportunity to meet and interact with other professionals which has given me the opportunity to set up shadowing and learn more about the multitude of roles within IBM.
I have also learnt the importance of connecting with people you meet over LinkedIn, as you never know who you may meet or how they may help you in the future.
Trial your career
Working within a fast-paced business environment in a client-facing role has confirmed that a career in consulting is a perfect fit for me. By testing the water in different fields in your placement year, you will be able to make a more informed decision as to whether to pursue this as a graduate. Worst case scenario, you realise you aren't as suited to the job as you thought but you have gained many transferable skills for your next venture.
Maturity and (hopefully) better grades
Having a full-time job has definitely accelerated my maturity and strengthened my diligent work ethic by adapting to an office working pattern. When I come back to AMBS I am definitely going to try and work a 9am-5pm day and utilise the time management skills I have learnt whilst managing projects at IBM. I now have a lot of inspiration for my final year projects and research has shown that those who have undertaken an industrial placement often gain a better final degree classification.