From Talent Network to Data Scientist – My First Days at IBM Were Beyond My Expectations

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Since 2015, the IBM Female Talents Network has served as a sustainable network of female students and early professionals with hiring potential for IBM in the DACH market (Austria, Germany, and Switzerland). One highly successful initiative in this network is the Female Talents Program, a collaboration with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Bosch. This program focuses on mentoring talented female students in the early stage of their career. Through this program and other events like Consulting Experience Workshops, we create opportunities for women to gain more insights into IBM technologies and our working culture, and to learn from female role models in DACH.

In June 2019, we warmly welcomed Ellen Hoeven, a former participant in the Female Talents Program, as she joined IBM Germany as a Data Scientist. Now, we talk with her about her experiences with the Female Talents Program and about her first impression as an IBMer.

What sparked your interest in IBM?

My interest in IBM was sparked early on during my studies at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) through my participation in the IBM Female Talents Program. IBM had already been on my radar prior to joining. The company’s services division caught my interest, notably in the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

What ultimately convinced me to join IBM was the interesting mix of methods and industry knowledge that I implement and extend in my current position as a data science consultant. I wanted to gather experience by not only applying machine learning techniques but also using these methods to create value in various use cases and industries in a broader context. Before starting at IBM, I had experience in the field of data science in healthcare, but the possibility to utilize machine learning in diverse disciplines inspired me. In addition to the domain expertise and industry connections, the international working environment, innovative mindset, and focus on diversity at IBM appealed to me.


What was your impression of IBM before joining the company?

Before I joined, I had heard about IBM in various contexts, ranging from Watson to IBM Research. Through the Female Talents Program, I gained a more comprehensive overview of the different opportunities that IBM offers. I became acquainted with IBM even more closely through the Karlsruhe Service Research Institute (KSRI) at KIT, which partners with IBM on various initiatives, like workshops. Through courses on topics such as design thinking and analytics, I discovered more about IBM. All in all, my impression of IBM was one that rendered many possibilities with innovative research topics, substantial career support, and exciting industry collaborations.

And how were your first days at IBM?

The support during my first days was beyond anything I had expected. I joined as part of the Consulting Program, which prepares incoming IBMers from a wide variety of backgrounds for their start in the IBM Services group. The 3-week onboarding was extremely valuable as it was such a comprehensive introduction to the company and the role. Most of all, my team colleagues were immensely supportive and I felt very welcomed.

What advice would you give other female talents who want to start their career on the right path?

My experience in the Female Talents Program was exceptional and I would strongly recommend it. For those in the program, I would suggest taking the opportunities to explore and ask questions – leverage the knowledge of participants on the “other side” of the program. I believe the Female Talents Program provides great opportunities to learn more about different roles and expertise areas and meet female role models in tech. From my perspective, being able to gain insights into the daily work lives of role models certainly encouraged me to determine what role and field of expertise I could picture myself in.

You, too, can have the same amazing experience as Ellen! If you are a female student looking for opportunities in IBM DACH, you are invited to join the IBM Female Students Network.


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