Oh how the time has come and gone! A Middle-Mark Reflection of Two Interns

Friday, October 14, 2011

Two IBM interns, Elton De Souza and Taehoon Andrew Kim reflect on their work experience as the middle-mark of their 16 month internship is upon them.

What is your role at IBM?

Elton: Currently, I am an intern at the JTC (Java Technology Center) in Ottawa. I play with the memory manager of the J9 virtual machine aka The Garbage Collector. In past lives, I have been an Extreme Blue intern at JTC which (sadly) ended a month ago.

Andrew: I work in the DB2 Information Development and Management department. I help communicate between the developers and the customers. I write technical, conceptual and related topics to help educate the customers of DB2 product. I spend fair amount of time understanding the product that I have to present. I am also an active member of the Future Blue 'Career & Development' team as well as the communications team.

What skills you have picked up so far during your internship?

Elton: As part of the EB program, I picked up some essential “startup skills”. By that I mean taking an idea and converting it into a marketable product. My summer responsibilities included code hackery and countless presentations to developers and business executives. The icing on the cake was a pitch to top tier managers at the IBM headquarters in New York. It really builds up your confidence when you’re amidst great minds.

My current position, being more of a technical nature, has taught me the value of quality, reliability and team work in software engineering. Every line of code counts and enterprise clients will not accept anything less than the very best.

Andrew : I've learned to initiate rather than waiting for a call for action, look for answers that I don't understand, and participate to gain the experience that IBM has to offer. I've learned to work with a large group of people who are just as technical and motivated to solve a global issue that needed to be addressed.

What technologies have you learned or become more familiar with?

Elton: My list of buzz-word compliant technologies can go on and on, but to keep it short, I work with distributed systems and low-level system programming. These come together to give you the “cloud” in all its SaaS, PasS, IaaS glory. The technologies I have become familiar with are all what makes the word “cloud” tick.

Andrew : I've learned that we all work as a part of a big puzzle, each piece is different but is needed to complete our goal. As more puzzles fits together, we get a clearer understanding of what we are doing. I've gained valuable experience working as a team to solve an issue. I've learned how IBM products co-exist to solve a business challenge. In addition to this, I've taken a DB2 academic certification course.

What networks/friends you have established?

Elton: My network spans from fellow interns to full timers including team leads, STSM's, DE's, Chief Architects, Senior Managers, Directors and VP's.

Andrew : Working together as 'Career & Development Mentorship Program' as a connection coach, I've had the chance to work with one of the best and brightest people at IBM. Future Blue organized activities and TIC (Toronto IBM Club) gave me opportunities to meet students outside of Ontario. My mentors (work and from C&D Mentorship program) from IBM have also introduced me to a different people outside of my department. Everyone here enjoys a quick conversation and they randomly drop by to say hello.

How comfortable are you in your role at IBM now? Compared to when you started?

Elton: My career at IBM began with Extreme Blue and EB forces you to be comfortable – anywhere. As long as IBM has customers with challenging technological problems to solve, I will always be comfortable in whatever position I am in.

Andrew : It was nerve-wracking at first, with all the procedure, security and requirement, but it feels quite at home after couple of months. Because many of the lab employees are students, the environment can be relaxed but fast-paced at the same time. There is a strong sense of professionalism between students and employees. There are always new thing to learn everyday with TechTalk and CASCON. There is just never a dull moment at work.

Reflections on a 16 month internship…

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In just a few weeks I’ll be wrapping up my 16 month internship at IBM and heading back to the classroom, feeling somewhat like a different person with all my fancy ‘real world’ experience and work-friendly clothes. It’s certainly hard to summarize everything I’ve been lucky enough to do over the past year and a bit but some moments really stick out.

Biggest things I learned/gained from my internship –

- How to work with a diverse, global team. Much to my surprise my first day of work, the team I work on has members scattered across the globe. About 90% of the people I work with aren’t at my office and most of them I’ve never met face to face. It took some getting used to but I’ve honed my email and conference call etiquette, and mastered giving a presentation over the web or over the phone.

- An increased confidence in my work and in myself. When I started my internship I had a million questions about everything and a lot of times I would ask myself (or my oh so kind teammates), “Am I doing this right?”. I’ve learned how to operate autonomously (it’s really quite nice not to have a manager checking on your every move), solve a lot of my own problems and find help when I really need it. I hate to sound too cliché, but now when I start a new project I think, “I can do this!”.

- How to network and be introduced to other potential jobs! Working at such a big company I had the opportunity to talk with people with a huge array of different jobs. It’s pretty easy to get an introduction to someone in almost any area of the company. I learned that IBMers (or maybe people in general) love to explain their jobs to you! If you’re interested, they have many words of wisdom.

Favourite Moments –

- The first time a co-worker reached out specifically to me for advice and help on a project. Working with so many people I consider talented and experienced marketing professionals, I’m usually the one asking for advice. As an intern I was happy enough to be doing real work as opposed to making photocopies or getting coffee (IBM interns don’t do that stuff!). But as my internship progressed, colleagues started coming to me for advice too. How cool is it that I’m now considered a subject matter expert in certain areas too?!

- IBM’s Centennial Day Celebrations and pre-celebratory decorating, watching WATSON compete on Jeopardy in IBM’s amphitheatre along with a hundred other IBMers. How lucky that I was working at IBM during both these momentous occasions!

- Making a presentation to the 200+ new interns that started their internships in May. Hard to believe I was in their position just one year ago, watching someone excitedly make presentations to me.

More than a year ago when I was filling out applications, I wanted an internship for so many reasons. My internship at IBM has definitely fulfilled those goals, and then some! I wanted to get solid work experience (check), a break from school (check), form a better idea of what I want to do after graduation (check), and make some money for student bills (check). On top of that, I really think I’ve been ‘spoiled’ at IBM with even more opportunity than I expected: being a leader of the IBM student community (Future Blue), having great manager and team, having flexible work hours and lots of at and after work activities to take part in. If this is the real world, it’s not so bad.

Olivia Stille

What is Future Blue and what is it's mission?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Future Blue is a laid back, fun-filled student community that is supportive and caters to personalities of all types. The community also strives to provide resources and assistance to help students transition into their new roles.

We don't bite! Everyone here is either far away from home, or just looking for someone to hang out with after work. At any given time, there are close to 400 interns in the Markham location! You might be thinking...Wow! Doesn't this vaguely resemble the close-knit high school life that you couldn't wait to get out of? Yes that's exactly what it is, but it's more fun this time.

Check out what the 2011-2012 Team leads have got to say about their plans for the next year!

Sumbul Alvi & Garrett Kerkkamp – Activities Team Lead

“Most of our events originate from the future blue facebook group discussions. We will plan many more events to cater to all types of personalities. Students can look forward to anything from sports games, to restaurant outings, day trips around Toronto, and much more.”

Chris Cowan – Web & Communications Team Lead

“I would like to make the Future Blue website the one stop location for all student needs in Future Blue. I plan to do this by adding plenty of content, as well as news updates for happenings within Future Blue. Specifically, I will be updating the site to version 17, adding a photo/news feed feature on the home page, and a helpful links section. Students can also look up available clubs and teams to join.”

Rena Chiu – Web & Communications Team Lead

“Our communications team runs a blog that caters to the interests of current and future IBM interns. We will continue reporting on future blue events, trendy happenings in Toronto, and other quirky things we love. This year's efforts will be focused on enhancing the interactive features of the blog, and adding a careers/student voices section.”

Ahmet Aksoy & Shravana Tiwari– Career & Development Team Lead

“One of our goals is to make C&D more approachable and raise awareness for career-related opportunities. I find that there are so many resources available to help students succeed at IBM, but most people don't know about it. For instance, there are some technical courses offered at the labs that would help expand my skills portfolio. I would like more people to take advantage of these offerings.”

Check out our blog or look us up on facebook!

Blog: http://futureblue.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=142028597824

IBM gives back!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

As part of IBM's Centennial celebrations, IBMers from across the globe were asked to share their skills within their communities by volunteering in IBM's Celebration of Service. The recognized Day of Service was Wednesday, June 15, 2011.

The IBM Celebration of Service is an event where employees take a day off work to lend a helping hand to the local charitable organizations. I volunteered at the Yellow Brick House women’s shelter to help organize their warehouse spaces. In a few short hours, we managed to completely revamp the warehouse with fresh paint, organized shelves, and a functional boutique clothing shop! The difference we made at the end really put a smile on everyone’s tired faces.

Volunteering has been a long time commitment for me since visiting a grassroots youth shelter for a high school project. It is an incredible feeling when you can see the impact and the gratitude from the people whose lives you have touched. Therefore, when I was looking for a 16 month internship, being able to stay involved in the local community was an important consideration for me.

Regardless of our job positions at IBM, the centennial volunteers were all connected by the single goal to do as much as we can for the families at the shelter. I was deeply moved by all the warmth, respect and dedication among the team. More importantly, this experience truly made me proud of working at IBM, where teamwork and the willingness to help others shine vividly through its corporate culture.

Rena Chiu

A two-way interview. Thoughts on Future Blue Day, by an enthusiastic new intern (Rena) and a wise graduating intern (Russell)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why did you sign up to be part of Future Blue Day?

Rena: Between the promise of a free lunch and competitive games, I thought it would be a nice opportunity to prove to my fellow interns that non-techies can go head-to-head with even the most hardcore code writers. On a more serious note, I was looking forward to networking and getting to know the peers whom I’ll be spending my next 16 months with.

Russell: When I was approached by the Future Blue leads to be a captain I was skeptical a first, being an intensely competitive person and given the somewhat lax rules of last years Future Blue events, I wasn’t sure managing a whole team was the best idea: But I’m always up for meeting new people, getting a free lunch (while getting paid), so I went in with the attitude ‘why not’, maybe they’ll be some improvements over last year and it’ll be fun way to connect with new people

What was your favorite activity? What was the key bonding moment for your team?

Rena: The Cheer Competition was definitely the highlight. Despite the chilly weather, people were pumped up and came up with the most entertaining cheers I’ve ever seen (and I’m from Western). The best part is that everybody got to contribute their skills towards the team effort, and all that silliness got rid of the remaining awkwardness lingering in the air. Our team (Team 3 yea! yea!) had the most random key words to put into our cheer: Future Blue, Mario Brothers, and Cheese Cutters. Needless to say we had a ton of fun with that.

Russell: The Cheer Competition (And not just because Team 13 won ). The three key words was a great addition that gave the extra bit of guidance needed for an activity that was mostly met with blank stares last year. Being a musical theater buff, the first thing I did in the morning with the three words was script out a rough cheer as ‘backup’ in case my team wasn’t full of keeners. Turns out, we threw the whole thing out and started again because I was extremely fortunate to be paired with a team in which everyone wanted to participate fully and was in it to win it. Even in all my years of summer camp that is hard to come by!

IBM's Monumental Milestone

Thursday, March 3, 2011

This July 2011 will mark IBM's centennial -- 100 years of continuous contribution to innovative technology, business solutions and corporate citizenship. As an organization that prides itself on having a positive impact in our communities, IBM has come a long way to achieve its objective to lead in the invention of advanced computer systems and information technologies. This includes the electric synchronized time clock system in 1919, the IBM 709 in 1957, the DB2 Universal Database in 1996 and more recently, the renowned Watson supercomputer -- all of which embrace IBM's vision of a "smarter planet," an on-going campaign that aims to make the world's systems smarter.

What does it mean to be an IBMer? To me, being part of IBM means much more than working on leading-edge technologies; rather, it means working for the future and making a significant difference. Being an IBMer also means being a valuable contributor to the world's largest IT and consulting company. I'm incredibly proud of what IBM has been able to accomplish over the last century as our innovations have truly transformed the way we work, share, communicate and conduct business globally.

Cheers to this milestone and many more to come!

Aminda Ou

The middle-mark.....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

As the middle-mark of their 16 month internship is upon them Chloe, Dan, Johan and Olivia reflect on what they’ve learned so far at IBM.

What is your role at IBM?

Chloe: I’m a Corporate Communications Intern for the Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) Research department in IBM. Because CAS is a department which spends most of it's time reaching out to professors and researchers, there's a lot of clear communications to be done.

Dan: I'm a technical enablement specialist. I do the technical side of presentations/demonstrations of InfoSphere Warehouse (an IBM software product).

Johan: As a Software Prototype Developer at IBM Canada's Centre of Advanced Studies (CAS), I implement and refine prototypes of various design ideas that CAS researchers are exploring, with a focus on Cloud Computing.

Olivia: I’m a “Market Analyst” on IBM’s Software Group’s Market Insights Team; I piece together info to create a picture of what the Software market looks like for different IBM brands. I’m also the Communications Team Lead for IBM’s intern/co-op club, Future Blue (so among other things, I run this blog: www.futureblue.wordpress.com ).

What skills you have picked up so far during your internship?

Chloe: The biggest skill I've picked up is event management and event planning. A huge part of the CAS year is the CAS Conference, CASCON, a 4 day conference which requires programming and deliverables (program guides etc.) for 1300+ participants who all need to be aware of what's going and equipped with all the important information.

Johan: I've picked up plenty of skills, but the ones that I think IBM brought out from me the most are the ability to think quickly on my feet, to look for those brilliant light bulb solutions that seem so obvious once you thought of it, and the ability to learn new concepts and technologies quickly; really quickly.

Olivia: My ‘soft skills’ have really beefed up because of my internship. I now have great practice and proof of my teamwork, initiative, and analytical abilities to name a few. What’s great is that these are transferable skills, so I can apply them at any job I may have after graduation and down the road. The surprising skills I’ve picked up are my email and phone communication skills since so many people I work with on a regular basis I’ve never met, because they work at another IBM location.

What technologies have you learned or become more familiar with?

Chloe: I have an improved knowledge of excel and just recently of Linux. I spent most of my secondary and post-secondary education on a Mac so just learning how to present well and do my work on PC-based products has been an experience. Other than that my biggest learn has been about Databases and how to use them for jobs like my own.

Dan: While here I've created a demonstration showing off InfoSphere Warehouse in a scalable, cloud-like environment using VMwave ESXi. I've had hands time on with servers that have a dozen CPU cores and over a hundred gigabytes of RAM. I've gotten to operate these servers myself and do some assembly too. I also got DB2 database certified to boot.

Johan: During the course of my internship, I've had the opportunity to do RESTful Web Services design with Ruby and Sinatra, Web UI development with jQuery and HTML5, and work on large scalable systems supported by NoSQL databases.

What networks/friends you have established?

Chloe, Dan, Johan, Olivia: We’ve all reached out to people on our respective teams, but also to other Future Blue students. It’s been nice to share lunch time conversations and participate in after-work activities with others like ourselves at IBM.

How comfortable are you in your role at IBM now? Compared to when you started?

Chloe: There are certain parts of my role, mostly people related where I am much more comfortable than when I started. I understand more about version control of documents and action words in emails to trigger people performing a task. I'm also much more comfortable in planning large-scale events as well.

Dan: I've come to like working at IBM so much over the first half of my internship. At first it was scary. I thought I had too many questions about IBM products that they could never all be answered. But they pretty well all have been and I feel totally empowered to tackle any project my team gets.

Johan: When I first started it felt quite peculiar to think of myself as an IBMer. It seemed that all my life I've always been a Student and being an IBMer and applying all those things I've learned as a student was such a novel experience for me. Now, 7 months later, I feel like I've been an IBMer all along and yet I'm still a student who's still learning something new every single day.

Olivia: I felt like 80% of the time I had no idea what was going on when I first started my role in May. What were these complicated software products and how did they work? How do I work on questions where there are no right answers? What was the protocol on emails, asking for help? The list was endless. And following the slew of acronyms and buzz words on conference calls was near impossible. I was worried I wouldn’t learn fast enough, and that I’d always feel confused, especially when the more senior interns left at the end of the summer. But amazingly, I transitioned easily and now I’m excited, not intimidated when managers ask for my help on projects. It’s been a huge confidence booster!