In March, four Management School students joined a visit to tech giant IBM’s site in Hursley for a Women in Technology Insight Day.
The trip, shared with students from Sheffield Hallam University, offered participants a great opportunity to learn more about opportunities at IBM – they were able to get a feel for the culture, experience group work activity, get support with their CVs and meet with staff in a wide range of roles in the organisation.
Two BA Business Management students, Israa Abdelrahim and Monika Fekete, were joined by BA Hispanic Studies and Business Management student Anna Rubingh and Mirna Cheet, who studies our MSc Work Psychology.
We asked Israa about her experience:
“The Women in Technology event is organised exclusively for female Sheffield students by two alumni, now IBMers, Waleed and Emma. It was honestly the most valuable experience and opened my eyes to a whole world of technology I had never experienced before.
“On the first day we met some of IBM’s inspiring female employees. They talked about their experiences of working in top positions and each gave refreshing perspectives on how to progress through a career as women. There was a discussion on how IBM provides plenty of opportunities for employees, particularly women, to develop themselves and progress. A common aspect of their jobs they were all passionate about was the flexibility they have.
This gave us an insight as to how IBM employees work. There is a great deal of autonomy and control over their work which is fantastic if you are seeking for a position that allows you to lead and one that recognises your contributions and ideas. What’s more, you do not necessarily have to be a very technical person to work at IBM. For example, I spoke to a chemistry graduate who mentioned that IBM valued her analytical skills from her degree more than her knowledge on technology. Whilst this definitely a relief to know, having a valuable, unique skill is most definitely useful when it comes to finding a graduate job.
“After a chat with the ladies, we were taken on a tour of the campus starting with the ‘Innovative Room’. It had four stations in this room each showcasing different projects developed by IBM. One that stood out to me was the ‘Classifier Content’ software that was developed by IBM Watson – you could enter any baby name into a search box and the software provided a statistic showing what percentage of the name sounded female and what percentage male. The software was also able to ‘classify’ a name of a city to where in the world it is most likely situated. It was particularly fascinating because it was an unusual but original idea and there were some unexpected results.
“After this, we explored the surrounding parkland – if you are the kind of person who likes to take a walk outside during a break, this is the perfect spot.
“We spent the next day participating in a mock assessment centre, one of the stages of the IBM placement or internship application process. This was useful as I was put to the test with other women in my group to figure out the answers to two logical questions using statements given on a paper given to each one of us. What we’d thought was going to be straight forward turned out to be an ordeal and a few minutes in, we realised our own papers actually had different statements so had to scramble together the pieces! Something I learnt to keep in mind for any future assessment centres! In the end, we did manage to find two possible solutions and were given some great tips such as using a logic table when finding the answer.
“IBM does not necessarily look at how much experience you have in technology or coding but rather find any useful skills you may have. They also assess how well you work with other people. There are plenty of opportunities there to progress your career, be flexible with your job and have full control over your work.
“A massive thank you to Waleed and Emma and IBM for organising everything for us. It was a wonderful experience and one that I hope to share with others.”