An intern’s life: Growing and giving

By | 2 minute read | February 25, 2020

The 21st Century has seen a huge shift in technological advancements and digitization, making “virtually” everything technologically dependent. Becoming tech-savvy is less a choice and more a necessity in today’s job market.

So, when I was selected as a Db2 Content Designer intern at the largest software development lab in Canada, I was nervous but absolutely thrilled.

As a Journalism and Communications graduate with a foundation in social science, there have been many days where Imposter Syndrome has kicked in. But the No. 1 lesson — a lesson of encouragement — I’ve learned during my internship so far is that technical skills are not everything.

IBM is a leader in fostering “new collar” jobs. Roles in some of the technology industry’s faster growing fields — from cybersecurity and cloud computing to cognitive business and digital design — do not always require a traditional technical degree. What they do require is the right mix of in-demand skill sets.

The value of arts and social sciences training is it tends to strengthen skills in critical thinking, collaboration, and emotional intelligence — key soft skills complimentary to any job, and vital to a company’s success.

During my nine months at the Lab as a Db2 Content Developer, I’ve discovered the clear connection between my studies and my work. Journalistic techniques help me understand the relationship between the message and the consumer. Just as journalists have the responsibility of informing the public and growing their readership and following, content developers are responsible for building, strengthening, and holding onto the relationship between the end user and the IBM product.

Internships are about learning “how to work” — it sounds strange, but it’s true. I learn new things every day, making going to work simultaneously feel like going to school — which is precisely the internship experience I was seeking. The right career should be a continuous challenge while offering endless learning opportunities. In my experience, IBM gets this mix right.

At IBM, colleagues offer guidance in technical writing and other forms of content development. Webinars, All-Hands meetings, and collaboration with global teams give employees opportunities to grow . There are also countless free online courses for IBMers to receive certified badges and add new skills through YourLearning, which offers an array of learning options based on employee interests, skills and preferences.  A new hire can immediately recognize and appreciate IBM’s efforts to keep teams involved, transparently sharing ideas and providing networking opportunities.

Beyond this, there are numerous opportunities to make a difference. Shortly after starting my internship, I volunteered for the annual IBM STEM4Girls camp, which has been running for 20 years at IBM Canada Lab and offers life-changing opportunity for young girls. I am now the co-chair of this summer’s camp and excited to mentor the next generation of girls in STEM. I’ve also volunteered for our Lab’s inaugural STEM Camp, and volunteered with fellow IBMers to plant over 800 trees at a nearby conservation park for Volunteer Day.

Challenging myself to apply to a tech company without a formal technical background has turned into one of the best decisions I’ve made.  I’ve been mentored, trained, and welcomed by the IBM family and am now keen to take advantage of all the opportunities presented to me, and with the help of fellow IBMers, make my journey in the tech industry my own.