Two years at IBM

Two Years at IBM

On July 27th 2017 I reached my two year anniversairy at IBM. Coincidentally, I had an internal interview the day previous. In it, I was asked “If you could go back to the beginning, what would you tell yourself?”. I thought it was an interesting question (must be why it’s now a cliche).

My two years at IBM have had highs and lows. I don’t think I could have avoided all of the lows, but I think with the right advice, I could have maybe shortened them. At the same time, there have been some lessons that I’ve heard before, but I haven’t learnt until I’ve had the weight of my own experience to drive them home. I suppose that’s the cruel part of learning from other people. You can listen, but you won’t understand always.

I suppose my IBM career can be simplified into a few broad strokes

  1. Burning out on my first project
  2. Moving to become more technical
  3. Getting involved with the extracurricular activities

Burning Out

I was on my first project for nearly a year. It’s only a year later that I can appreciate all that I learnt whilst on it. I took a lot of experience for granted at the time. TO try and avoid the experiences that taught me all of that would be silly, it’s who I am now. But if I could message myself, I would advise the following:

  • Get help. Don’t suffer in silence. If something isn’t clear, ask. If they can’t help, ask someone else. Keep asking.
  • Stand up for yourself. Everyone has an agenda (not in a machivellian aspect), everyone has their own problems, both in work and outside. People are great, but you shouldn’t rely on them to solve your problems, or look out for yourself. I was in my first project for far longer than beneficial because I went with the flow to support other people, rather than insisting to move on.

Becoming more technical

Soon after joining IBM, I decided I wanted to become technical. I’d looked on longingly at those with the ability to code, but I never believed I could do it. Since then, I’ve started following my interests. It’s been stop-start, bumpy, disheartening, but slowly successful. I feel a bit like climbing to the top of the mountain, only to realise there’s another peak behind, that’s even further away. The more I learn, the more I discover I don’t know. Finding the time to learn more is difficult, but it’s taught me to start reflecting the quality and quantity of what I do. “Is this taking me towards my goals?”.

I’d tell myself

  • Yes you can do it! I wish I’d started earlier
  • It’s okay to get distracted, feel overwhelmed. It takes time, practice and a bit of luck.

Getting Involved

  • Use giveback to my advantage.
  • Find opportunities that interest me
  • Mentoring
  • Data Analysis