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Being the ‘Futures ‘ of IBM

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You might be uncertain about whether to start work, complete an apprenticeship or go to university. If that’s you and you are unsure of what to do next, take a look at our IBM Futures Scheme. The scheme is being offered in IBM UK and offers the invaluable opportunity to work with a world-leading company for 12-months, broadening your horizons and giving you a head start in your career. You’ll be deployed onto a challenging work placement where you’ll support and learn from experienced professionals across IBM. That could be in any area across the company. At the end of the placement, you define your future path.

Anwulika Elliott and Zara Alam are on a Business Placement on the IBM Futures Scheme in the UK. In this interview, they share with us why they decided to become an IBM Future, their role at IBM, and their future aspirations.


Why did you decide to apply for the IBM Futures scheme?

Anwulika: I wanted three things from my gap year: to be productive, to learn new skills and to hopefully save some money for university. The IBM Futures scheme seemed to tick all the boxes. After understanding the leaps and bounds IBM is making in defining the development of Blockchain technology, the progress being made in using AI to improve people’s lives, and the advancement of IoT to keep people safer, I knew a placement with IBM would be a fantastic opportunity.

It was also important to me that there was large number of other people straight out of school like me within the company and IBM didn’t disappoint with around 300 Futures, University Placement interns and Apprentices working in the UK. These Early Professionals are proactive in developing themselves and giving back to IBM, launching successful platforms for BAME, LGBTQ+, Foundation Females and so much more.

Nearly a year on, I have no regrets.

Zara: Having spent the last 13 years in mainstream education, I wanted to challenge myself to learn, adapt and thrive in a new environment before university commences. IBM’s commitment to its principles of ‘Restless Reinvention’ stood out to me, demonstrating a dynamic workplace environment that would regularly provide opportunities to challenge myself. As I didn’t know what I wanted to do after university, I hoped that throwing myself into as many new situations as possible would help me better understand my strengths, and weaknesses, as well as identify my areas of interest.

The IBM Futures scheme attracted me because your role is offered after a matching process, so it’s likely the work you’ll be doing will be tailored to your skills and interests. Additionally, the cohort of interns across IBM is large, and in being connected to them I knew there would be a lot of exposure to the range of roles and fields that exist within IBM.

2017/18 Futures Cohort – Anwulika (front centre) & Zara (back, 4th from right)


What’s your job role and how are you finding it so far? 

Anwulika: Over the past year I’ve managed business operations in European Healthcare and Life Sciences (HCLS) where I support the Director of HCLS and her team to develop IBM’s healthcare business in Europe. This could involve anything from creating content for executive presentations or internal meetings, undertaking research, analysing pipeline and sales data, to representing IBM at healthcare and life sciences conferences.

It was a challenge at first as it’s a large industry with lots of specific terminology. However, everyone who I work with is very approachable and happy to answer all my questions and now I am more than comfortable discussing IBM’s Healthcare solutions.

Outside of my main role, I’ve also had a chance to work with IBM’s Black and Minority Ethnic Business Resource group to contribute to IBM’s commitment to diversity and inclusion which has been very rewarding.

Overall, I’m loving the experience! There’s so much potential for technology to make an impact in Healthcare so it’s very cool that I get to be a part of it.

Zara: This year I have had the pleasure of being a Workshop Analyst in Sales Transformation, working with Deal teams across our Global Business Services. I’ve experienced a range of activities in order to support our team’s mission of helping Sales teams improve their win rates. From extensive stakeholder analysis, to traveling all over Europe for face-to-face workshops, it’s fantastic to have gained an understanding of how IBM approaches its clients and relational strategy.

Like most Gap Year students, I’ve been to Amsterdam a few times this year. Unlike most Gap Year students, it was to better understand the workings of multi-million dollar transactions.

IBM Watson Summit 2017


What are your plans for next year?

Anwulika:  I deferred university where I’d read Physics with French to join the Futures scheme, and will be taking up my place this upcoming September. I’ve massively increased my network this year and have learned so much, so I am very much looking forward to coming back either on a summer placement or to join IBM’s graduate scheme post-university.

Zara:  As my Placement rolls to a close in September, my course Modern History with Economics at the University of Manchester will begin. I’ve learned a lot during my time with IBM, both in Business and about myself, by engaging with whatever opportunity that has come my way. My plan for next year is to continue getting stuck right in! Whether it’s attending Debating society and Insight days, or joining the Drama Club and trying out Ice Skating – watch this space!


Are you interested in joining the IBM futures scheme? If so, please sign up for the IBM Talent Network and see more information here:

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